US media company The Shooting Gallery has been sold to Toronto-based dotcom Itemus in a $56m share swap deal.

However The Shooting Gallery familiar to the international film industry, namely the film development and distribution business, will be spun off, along with allied television and music arms, to existing shareholders prior to the deal. That business will operate under the name Shooting Gallery Entertainment and will become a client of Itemus' Shooting Gallery subsidiary.

The core Shooting Gallery company specialises in digital media content development and design - so-called "rich content" - and boasts an impressive client list including Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank, Saatchi & Saatchi, J. Walter Thompson, DDB, Young & Rubicam, New York Times Television and Citipost. It's a natural fit for Itemus, a new but well-capitalised company with interests in rich content, mobile ecommerce and networking that also incubates internet-based business plays.

Key Shooting Gallery executives including chairman and CEO Larry Meistrich and president Steve Carlis will remain with the company. The deal is expected to close in January 2001.