Ubisoft opening animated-movie studio

[UPDATE] The Canadian government will give the French publisher $8 million dollars to make computer-generated films "for the general public."

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Last month, Ubisoft reported solid earnings for the October to December 2006 quarter. And although the French publisher is already flush with cash, it is about to receive a sizable chunk of free money.

Today's issue of the Quebecois broadsheet La Presse reports that tomorrow, the Canadian government will announce it is giving Ubisoft's Montreal-based subsidiary C$8 million (around $6.8 million). The payment is part of an ongoing grant program that will see Ubisoft receive C$454 million (approximately $383.9 million) from Ottawa to create 1,000 jobs in Quebec, Canada's large, predominantly French-speaking province.

But while Ubisoft getting government handouts is nothing new--the company got $4.3 million to open a game-development "university" in 2005--the reason for the forthcoming grant reportedly is. La Presse says the money is to "permit the creation of a computer-animation studio in Montreal." The paper notes that studio would be the first of its kind in the city's history and would initially make "short films for the general public."

The newspaper said the grant announcement will be made tomorrow by Canada's labor minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Montreal's mayor, Gerald Tremblay. Ubisoft chairman and CEO Yves Guillemot will be in attendance, as will Ubisoft Montreal head Yannis Mallat.

[UPDATE] Early Friday morning, Ubisoft confirmed the grant from Ottawa. The company will indeed "create a new CGI movie production house within its Montreal studio and it will significantly expand its video game development operations in the region."

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