Nearly a year after the departure offounder and CEO Jay Firestone, Fireworks Entertainment is to be shuttered byparent company CanWest Global Communications.
Winnipeg-based CanWest announced on Fridaythat the stricken company would cease both television production andacquisition activities and that discussions were underway with "a numberof parties" toward disposing of the catalogue. CanWest said it would takea C$200m write-down in its second quarter 2004 financials.
Firestone founded Fireworks in 1995 shortlyafter his departure from pre-merger Alliance Communications, where he wasvice-chairman, with a goal of creating genre TV production. It was acquired byCanWest in 1998 for some C$40m when demand for such programming was peakinginternationally. Fireworks expanded into feature film production anddistribution, opening offices in LA and London. Under various shingles, such as7 Arts International, it backed several films, none of which performed at thebox office, including 1999's Onegin,2000's Rules Of Engagement and the 2002bomb Who Is Cletis Tout' The company wasinvolved in New York-based IDP Distribution, a partnership with Samuel GoldwynFilms and Carl Icahn's Stratosphere Entertainment. During the past year,Fireworks withdrew from the theatrical side of the business entirely and cutseveral staff positions.
In astatement, CanWest blamed a "continued and persistent weakness in thedemand for North American content in international markets." Given thelikelihood of a prolonged downturn in those markets, president and CEO LeonardAsper said, "it has become clear that sound business principles could nolonger justify the Fireworks business model."