The Muppets move into the Mouse House
After more than a decade of trying, Disney has managed to bring Kermit, Piggy and Gonzo under its umbrella. The House of Mouse signed a deal to acquire the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House assets from the Jim Henson Company, including the properties’ film and television libraries and all associated copyrights. Henson will also be tapped to develop new programming for Disney featuring the Muppets and Bear. The deal does not include the Sesame Street characters, and Henson will retain ownership of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the rest of the TV and film library and all other properties.
Contender scoops up kidvid distributor
London, England’s Contender Entertainment Group has acquired local TV and DVD distribution company Medusa Communications and Marketing, bringing the group’s annual turnover up to more than US$37 million. Contender will use Medusa’s assets to expand sales and home entertainment initiatives for preschool TV properties including Tractor Tom and Peppa Pig, as well as gleaning new revenues from Medusa library fare such as U.S. hit sitcom Will and Grace. The combined group will operate under the CEG banner, with Contender founder Richard Bridgwood staying on as MD and Medusa founders David Hodgins and Steven Rivers serving as directors.
Bratz heads to the big screen
Not satisfied with taking on Barbie in the toy aisles, Bratz is now poised to one-up the doll diva on the silver screen. Twentieth Century Fox recently signed a deal with North Hills, California-based MGA Entertainment to produce a feature film based on its fashion doll line. The as-yet-untitled film will combine live-action and animation, and has a tentative release date of late 2005. In addition, the studio has picked up distribution rights for a DTV title in production. Bratz: The Video! is a feature-length 2-D animated co-pro between MGA and Montreal, Canada-based CinéGroupe that should hit shelves in late 2004.