Henson headed back to…Henson
Kermit and Miss Piggy are going home. Following a lengthy courting period with a who’s-who of the kids entertainment industry, Munich, Germany-based distributor and licensing company EM.TV & Merchandising has agreed to sell back its 100% stake in the Jim Henson Company to the children of the late, great producer. The Henson family has agreed to ante up US$78 million to EM.TV, which will get another US$11 million in liquid assets from the Jim Henson Company. In addition to properties such as The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House, the family will gain ownership of the prized Jim Henson Creature Shop puppet construction division. Back in 2000, during the high-flying days of the German stock market, EM.TV paid US$680 million for Henson. At press time, EM.TV’s board was expected to approve the deal by late July.
Entertainment Rights signs Barbie’s dance card again
Following boffo sales for Mattel’s first two direct-to-video titles starring the gal with a thousand careers, U.K.-based Entertainment Rights has understandably decided to acquire worldwide (except North America) broadcast and home entertainment distribution rights to a third feature, Barbie of Swan Lake. Based on Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece of the same name, the CG feature is currently in production at Vancouver, Canada’s Mainframe Entertainment for an October release. The first two Barbie features, Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie as Rapunzel, have sold 3.6 million DVD/VHS units internationally to date.
Televisa grows its kids portfolio
Hispanic distributor Televisa Internacional expands its kids catalogue with two new pick-ups from Miami, Florida-based Grupo Televisa affiliate BouncyNet: El Reto Burundis and Juana La Iguana. Launched as a greeting card line featuring eight zany Internet characters, El Reto Burundis is a 30 x one-hour live-action/animated game show for kids ages six to 12. Preschool series Juana La Iguana (26 x half hours) follows the adventures of a curious lizard. BouncyNet retains worldwide home entertainment rights to the shows, which air on Channel 5 in Mexico.