New York-based animation studio Classic Media has reached an agreement to purchase beleaguered Christian kidvid producer Big Idea Productions. Under the terms of the deal, which was contingent upon Big Idea filing for bankruptcy protection in late August, Classic will assume ownership of BIP assets including its animation studio in Lombard and its portfolio of intellectual properties.
In the early ’90s, Big Idea emerged as the clear leader in a burgeoning Christian kidvid category with VeggieTales, a CGI-animated video series that aims to teach kids moral lessons through the adventures of two vegetable characters – Larry the cucumber and Bob the tomato. Originally distributed exclusively in the Christian retail market, VeggieTales became the first Christian kids video series to cross over to the mass market successfully, and the franchise has sold more than 30 million units since its debut in 1993.
But despite BIP’s success in the home entertainment market, strategic errors such as the decision to self-finance its first-ever theatrical feature while simultaneously slowing production of its cash-cow videos, led to financial problems, says company COO Terry Pefanis. Released last October, the CGI feature Jonah – a VeggieTales Movie grossed US$25 million at the box office and cost less than US$15 million to produce. BIP spokesperson Kris Fuhr expects Classic’s acquisition of Big Idea to be finalized by the end of the year.