|Traded as||OTC Pink: PDOSE|
|Industry||Comics, Movies, Television|
|Founder(s)||Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.|
|Key people||Brian Altounian, Christopher Beall|
Platinum Studios, Inc. is a publicly traded media company based in the United States. It controls a large independent library of more than 5,600 comic book characters, which it seeks to adapt, produce, and license for all forms of media, including print, film, online, mobile/wireless, gaming, and merchandising. The company's publishing partners include Awesome Comics, Top Cow Productions, Inc., and UFO Magazine.
Platinum Studio's co-founder and chairman is Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The company has found success with such properties as Men in Black and Cowboys & Aliens, but has also faced criticism for its business practices. The company's website hasn't been updated since July 2011; in 2012 it was delisted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Platinum Studios was co-founded in January 1997 by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and European rights agent Ervin Rustemagić. As the former head of Malibu Comics, Rosenberg had published comic book lines including the Men In Black comic book, which he later brought to Columbia/Sony Pictures and became the Men in Black film franchise, starting in 1997. (Men in Black was not associated with Platinum Studios in any way.)
As part of the arrangement with Rustemagić, Platinum Studios acquired the film and television rights to two popular European comic book series, Dylan Dog (for $500,000) and Jeremiah. Jeremiah, which was created by the Belgian cartoonist Hermann Huppen, was adapted into a science-fiction TV series which ran on Showtime from 2002 to 2004. Created by Tiziano Sclavi and published by Sergio Bonelli Editore, Dylan Dog was the source material for the 2010 film Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.
In May 1997, soon after forming Platinum Studios, Rosenberg sold Cowboys & Aliens to DreamWorks/Universal Studios based on a one sheet of a cowboy being chased by a spaceship. Platinum Studios Comics published the Cowboys & Aliens graphic novel in October 2006. The Cowboys & Aliens film was released theatrically in 2011.
Over the next ten years, Platinum Studios continued to increase the size and of its portfolio through licensing, publishing, film, and television contracts with comic book creators.
Rustemagić left the company in 2000.
In July 2004, Platinum Studios acquired the film and TV rights to Top Cow Productions' library of characters and titles. This led to a number of deals with Hollywood studios — and, as of a decade later, no produced films.
From 2006–2007, Platinum produced the Comic Book Challenge, an annual, televised competition among aspiring comic book creators. The Challenge was broadcast on KNSD (the San Diego NBC affiliate) in conjunction with the San Diego Comic-Con. The winners of both years' competitions had their work published by Platinum Studios Comics (which was most active in 2007–2008).
Platinum Studios posted net losses of $4.3 million in 2006 and $5.1 million in 2007. In September 2006, Platinum Studios purchased the webcomics community site DrunkDuck.com, and in 2008 it acquired the digital media content site WOWIO.
In 2012, Platinum Studios was de-listed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and placed on its "Pink Sheets LLC" list. Several high-profile lawsuits were filed against Rosenberg personally for accusations ranging from embezzlement to misappropriations of company funds.
In early 2013, a large portion of Platinum Studios' intellectual properties had been transferred to other companies tied to Rosenberg. Platinum Studios itself seemed to consist only of Rosenberg, running what was left of the company out of his apartment. In 2014, 27 million shares of Platinum were acquired by KCG Holdings.
Film and television production
Platinum has sold film and television rights to several Hollywood studios. In addition to the finished films Cowboys & Aliens and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, there is a slate of feature films supposedly in development based on Platinum Studio's portfolio, including:
- Atlantis Rising — with producer Mark Canton
- Red Mantis (Mal Chance) — with producer Tony Krantz
- Unique — with producer David Heyman/Walt Disney Pictures
- The Weapon — with TV star David Henrie attached
and the Top Cow Productions titles:
- The Darkness — film rights sold to Dimension Films in December 2004; resold to the Pang brothers in December 2005
- V.I.C.E. — with producer Andrew Lazar
- Witchblade — Arclight Films
In addition to Jeremiah, Platinum sold the television rights to a number of projects, including:
- Indestructible Man — an as-yet unreleased Platinum Studios Comics title, with Fox 21
- Gunplay — Fox 21
Cowboys & Aliens
Platinum Studios Chairman & CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg spearheaded the creation of Cowboys & Aliens in 1997. It was bought by DreamWorks and Universal Studios in May 1997, based on a one sheet of a cowboy being chased by a spaceship.
By the mid-2000s, the film project was in turnaround. Rosenberg commissioned an Cowboys & Aliens original graphic novel, and in order to make the comic appear to be a big seller, he priced the 105-page book at the low cost of $4.99 (when most graphic novels were $10 and up). Platinum attempted to game the system in various other ways, including using a business arrangement with the popular publisher Top Cow Productions to list Cowboys & Aliens in Top Cow's section of the Diamond Comic Distributors catalogue. They also gave certain retailers huge bulk discounts on the book, all of which counted toward sales numbers. Based on these inflated numbers, Entertainment Weekly listed Cowboys & Aliens as a top seller for the month, which prompted Universal/DreamWorks to move the film project forward again.
Jon Favreau directed the screen adaptation of the comic, which was penned by Transformers and Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci. Cowboys & Aliens starred Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Noah Ringer, Paul Dano, Ana de la Reguera, and Clancy Brown. The film was produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, and Rosenberg. Steven Spielberg and director Favreau acted as the film's executive producers.
Cowboys & Aliens premiered at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International and was released theatrically in the United States and Canada on July 29, 2011. The film, though having grossed its budget back, is considered to be a financial disappointment, taking $174.8 million in box office receipts on a $163 million budget. Cowboys & Aliens received mixed reviews, with critics generally praising the acting but criticizing the film's blend of the Western and science fiction genres.
Platinum Studios’ digital publishing works in three areas: web comics publishing, mobile content, and comic news and resources.
Drunk Duck and WOWIO
In September 2006, Platinum Studios purchased the webcomics community site DrunkDuck.com (created by Dylan Squires) for an undisclosed sum. Drunk Duck was at the time a community of mostly amateur webcomics artists. Platinum Studios signed several option agreements with Drunk Duck community members after the purchase, which caused some discord in the community. Some felt it would help the site's popularity and the community would only get bigger and better; others were concerned Platinum was going to "take over" and claim the rights to people's comics. After the purchase, the site featured a mixture of Platinum Studios-owned professional comics and independently owned amateur comics. Platinum never claimed ownership of any comic that it had not entered into legal documentation with. The Drunk Duck community grew to 95,000 subscribed users in mid-2010.
In June 2008, Platinum Studios announced that it had begun talks to acquire WOWIO, a Los Angeles-based online destination that provides users the ability to share and consume digital media content, such as e-comics and E-books, while providing revenue-generating opportunities for creators and publishers through advertising and merchandising programs. Platinum hoped to make WOWIO a "major cornerstone" of "a global digital publishing distribution initiative."
The companies projected that the acquisition would be concluded early in the third quarter of 2008, but issues related to non-payment of quarterly earnings delayed the sale. In June 2009, WOWIO was purchased outright by Brian Altounian (formerly Platinum Studios' COO, and still a Platinum Studios board member); leaving Platinum Studios with no ownership stake or percentage. (Third quarter earnings for the year, calculated on a new formula more favorable to WOWIO, were eventually paid.)
In June 2010, WOWIO acquired DrunkDuck.com from Platinum Studios.
Platinum Studios Comics/Comic Book Challenge
Platinum Studios Comics were intended to be distributed both online and in print, in association with DrunkDuck and the company’s online store. Online releases were slated to start before in-store print release. In addition, some Platinum Studios Comics titles were developed for film, television, and other media; and images and content from all comics were also available for cell phones and mobile devices via Platinum's mobile storefront. However, the company also has a significant inventory of partly or fully completed comic work that appears unlikely to ever appear either online or in print.
From 2006–2007, Platinum produced the Comic Book Challenge, an annual, televised competition among aspiring comic book creators. The Comic Book Challenge was originally presented by AT&T. Over one million applicants were judged on the quality of the art and writing of their submissions. After hearing all the pitches, judges narrowed the talent pool and turned over the final decision to the voting public. The Challenge was broadcast on KNSD (the San Diego NBC affiliate) in conjunction with the San Diego Comic-Con. Winners received prizes from software to graphics tablets and new PCs, while competing for the first-prize award of publishing their comic with Platinum Studios (as well as other possible media ventures).
The winner of the 2006 Comic Book Challenge was D. J. Coffman's Hero by Night, which was subsequently published as a limited series and an ongoing series by Platinum Studios Comics. I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space by Megan Rose Gedris made the final round of the 2006 Comic Book Challenge, and was also subsequently published by Platinum Studios Comics.
The 2007 judge’s panel consisted of Scrubs regular Donald Faison, Shrek producer John H. Williams, and Platinum Studios Chairman Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The 2007 winner was Jorge Vega's Gunplay, which was published as an original graphic novel by Platinum Studios Comics in 2008. Although actor Brandon Routh was announced as a judge for the 2008 Comic Book Challenge, the event was discontinued after 2007.
In 2007–2008, Platinum Studios Comics released a large slate of comic book titles and original graphic novels, including KISS 4K, produced in conjunction with the rock band Kiss; and comics by the winners of its Comic Book Challenge talent contest, including Hero by Night by D.J. Coffman.
In June 2008, Hero by Night creator D. J. Coffman stopped work on his book (which at that point consisted of a four-issue limited series and three issues of an ongoing series), claiming he had never been paid, and criticizing Platinum Studio's business practices. This led then-Platinum COO Brian Altounian to imply Coffman was breaking the law (by breaching a non-disclosure agreement, though Platinum had not paid the creator for the work he unwittingly signed into the company's possession until the public announcements). A few days after the dispute went public, Coffman received a check from Platinum for all monies owed.
From 2008–2012 Platinum Studios was the subject of a number of lawsuits, mostly relating to unpaid bills and similar breaches of contracts. One such suit was filed by Platinum Studios co-founder Ervin Rustemagić, who claimed that Rosenberg & Platinum Studios had caused damages amounting to $125,000 in a case involving film producer fees. Rustemagić was eventually awarded $77,000 in arbitration.
In 2012, several high-profile lawsuits were filed against Rosenberg personally for accusations ranging from embezzlement to misappropriations of company funds.
In January 2013, in a public struggle between Rosenberg and Platinum president Chris Beall (formerly of NBM Publishing), Beall accused Rosenberg of transferring company intellectual property from Platinum into a series of shell companies. Beall was later ousted from the company.
In November 2013, I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space creator Megan Rose Gedris took the series down from the web, where it had been hosted by Platinum Studios since 2007. She claimed the company had not paid her since 2007, and had strung her along for years with false promises.
Original graphic novels
- Alien at Large (2008), by Bob Keenan and Rich Larson
- The Big Amoeba (2008), by Art Baltazar
- Cowboys & Aliens (2006), by writers Fred Van Lente & Andrew Foley, and artists Dennis Calero and Luciano Lima — film rights sold in 1997; produced as a DreamWorks Studios film in 2011
- Gunplay (2008), by Jorge Vega and Dominic Vivona — TV rights sold to Fox 21 in 2009
- Hot Shot & Mighty Girl (2008)
- Love Bytes (2007), by Josh Elder and Gigi
- Nightfall (2007), by Scott O. Brown and Ferran Xalabarder
- Red Mantis (2007), by Martin Pardo and David Morancho — translated from a Spanish comic called Mal Chance: Lola; film rights sold to producer Tony Krantz in 2009
- Super Larry (2008), by Andy Mangels and Dan Thompson
- Watchdogs (Feb. 2007), by Fred Van Lente and Brian Churilla ISBN 978-1-934220-05-4
Limited series/ongoing series
- The Adventures of Tymm: Alien Circus (3 volumes, 2008–2011), by Dave Roman and L. Frank Weber
- Atlantis Rising (5 issues, Oct. 2007-Apr. 2008), by Scott O. Brown and Tim Irwin — film rights sold to producer Mark Canton in 2012
- Big Badz (4 issues, 2008), by Chuck Dixon and Enrique Villagrán
- Blood Nation (4 issues, Feb.–May 2007), by Rob Moran and James Devlin
- Complex, by Geoffrey Thorne (announced but never unpublished)
- Consumed (4 issues, July-Oct. 2007)
- Ghosting (5 issues, Aug.-Dec. 2007), written by Fred Van Lente with art by Charles Carvalho and Carlos Ferreira — co-published with Top Cow Productions
- Hero by Night, by D. J. Coffman
- Limited series (4 issues, Mar.-June 2007)
- Ongoing series (3 issues, Dec. 2007–2008)
- Hero By Night Free Comic Book Day Edition (1 issue, 2008)
- I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space (6 issues, May 2008 – 2009), by Megan Rose Gedris
- Incursion (4 issues, Nov. 2007-Feb. 2008), created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg; written by Jay Busbee and illustrated by Axel Medellin Machain
- Kiss 4K (6 issues, May 2007-Apr. 2008), written by Ricky Sprague with art by Kevin Crossley & Thomas Ruppert
- Unique (3 issues, Mar.-May 2007), by Dean Motter and Dennis Calero — film rights sold to producer David Heyman/Walt Disney Pictures in 2009
- The Weapon (4 issues, June-Sept. 2007), by Fred Van Lente and Scott Koblish — film rights sold in 2009
- Daly, Vanessa. "Platinum Studios partners with Bango for mobile download technology," Bango website (March 13, 2007).
- DeMott, Rick. "Platinum Studios To Bring Top Cow Comics To Film & TV," AWN.com (July 27, 2004).
- Sauriol, Patrick. "Platinum, UFO Magazine partner for out of this world projects: Movies, comics, video games to be produced by partnership," Mania (June 18, 2004)
- Press release. Scott Rosenberg Leaves Marvel; Acquires 50 Percent of Platinum Studios, The Free Library (Jan. 16, 1997).
- Marriott, Michel (September 25, 2006). "Using Web as first draft for comic books". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2012. "bought DrunkDuck.com, a popular Webcomics site ... community of Webcomics artists, writers and fans"
- MacDonald, Heidi. "Platinum Studios alive and kicking and licensing Cowboys & Aliens," The Beat (August 16, 2011).
- Orange, B. Alan. "'Dylan Dog: Dead of Night' Arrives April 29th: Brandon Routh brings the popular comic book character to life in this feature adaptation from director Kevin Munroe," Movie Web (March 2, 2011).
- Fleming, Michael. "D'Works, U lasso 'Cowboys'," Variety (May 20, 1997).
- "'Cowboys & Aliens': Patience & Progress," Variety [dead link]
- "Dimension Films Enters The Darkness," SuperHeroHype (Dec. 6, 2004).
- "Brian Altounian Joins Platinum Studios as Chief Operating Officer: Former Time Warner Interactive Executive Brings Both a Proven Operations Track Record and Multi-Media Partnership Experience," PR Newswire (August 9, 2005).
- "Business Update, and Outlook: Platinum Studios Reports Fiscal 2007 Financial Results," Reuters (Apr. 1, 2008).
- "Turning the Page", Los Angeles Business Journal (08 March 2010). Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
- Tartakoff, Joseph. "Wowio Buys Webcomics Community DrunkDuck ", Gigaom (08 June 2010). Retrieved on Feb. 19, 2014.
- MacDonald, Heidi. "The utterly insane world of Platinum Studios," The Beat (January 17, 2013).
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- Trumbore, Dave. "Platinum Studios to Resurrect ATLANTIS RISING with IMMORTALS Producer Mark Canton," Collider.com (Jan. 19, 2012).
- Michael, Fleming. "Platinum, Krantz to take a 'Chance': Graphic novel set for live-action adaptation," Variety (September 23, 2009).
- Fernandez, Jay A. "Waverly" star Henrie joins "Weapon" adaptation," Reuters (Sep. 16, 2009).
- IGN Film Force. "Pang Brothers Eying Darkness: Comic Headed to the Big Screen" IGN (Dec. 1, 2005).
- Fleming, Mike, Jr. "Andrew Lazar, Platinum Studios And Top Cow Target ‘Vice’," Deadline (Feb. 2, 2011).
- Kay, Jeremy. "Platinum teams with Top Cow, Arclight on feature of Witchblade," '"Screen Daily (May 12, 2008).
- Andreeva, Nellie. "Fox21 developing 'Indestructible Man' series: TV project is based on Platinum's upcoming comic book," Hollywood Reporter (Oct. 19, 2009).
- Andreeva, Nellie. "Fox21, Platinum load 'Gunplay' for TV: Graphic novel adaptation centers on buffalo soldier," Hollywood Reporter (Nov. 1, 2009).
- Johnston. Rich. "The Secret Story Behind Cowboys And Aliens," Bleeding Cool (July 29, 2011).
- "Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. making 'Cowboys & Aliens'," Heat Vision Blog (Sept, 2009).
- Cowboys & Aliens at the Internet Movie Database
- Johnston, Rich. "WOWIO to Pay All 2008 Second Quarter Payments by November 15," Bleeding Cool (October 1, 2009).
- Reid, Calvin. "New Owners, New Business Model at Wowio.com," Publishers Weekly (Oct. 25, 2010).
- Comic Book Hype's "The Comic Book Challenge Returns," Super Hero Hype (March 16, 2007).
- Gustines, George Gene. "Arts, Briefly; Comic Book Contest," New York Times (May 1, 2007).
- Ball, Ryan. "Platinum’s Comic Book Challenge Returns," Animation Magazine (March 19, 2007).
- Johnston, Rich. "Lying in the Gutters: Platinum Hostage Situation," Comic Book Resources (June 23, 2008).
- MacDonald, Heidi. "Breaking news: DJ Coffman paid," The Beat (June 28, 2008).
- "Rustemagic v. Rosenberg & Platinum Studios," EDGAR Online. Accessed Apr. 10, 2014.
- MacDonald, Heidi. "Smurfs tie with Cowboys & Aliens at the box office –with bonus Platinum SEC filings," The Beat (Aug. 1, 2011).
- The Deadline Team. "UPDATE: Platinum Studios Chaos: CEO Scott Rosenberg Refutes Fired Exec Chris Beall’s Version Of Events," Deadline (January 17, 2013).
- Gedris, Megan Rose. "It’s with extreme sadness…," Gedris blog (October 2012).
- Cowboys and Aliens - News @ Comics2Film.com
- "Van Lente likes the Posse Circling 'Cowboys & Aliens,'" Comic Book Resources (June 17, 2008).
- "Jorge Vega: Learning To Play With Guns," Comics Bulletin (March 10, 2008).
- Worley, Rob. "Prime, Jeremeiah, Mal Chance," Comic Book Resources: "Comics2Film" (Oct. 17, 2001).
- "Chuck Dixon: Profiles in Prolifics," Comic Bulletin (April 10, 2008).