HIT Entertainment’s original ’80s moniker, Henson International Television, could legitimately come back into play now that Henson has granted HIT the rights to sell its preschool catalogue and co-produce a kidvid series based on a classic book property.
Hot on the heels of selling The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House to Disney, Henson handed over the distribution rights to 440 hours of its Family Classics catalogue to HIT in early April. And Lisa Henson, co-CEO and co-chair at Henson, says the two companies will start working on a video/DVD series starring Frances, the badger protagonist of a book series by Russell and Lillian Hoban for kids ages four to eight.
HIT and Henson plan to use a new hybrid technique of puppetry and CGI to produce the first Frances title for release in Q1 2005. Lisa Henson says the vids will likely be based on both existing and new story lines, and she expects HIT to expand the Frances brand into toys and more book formats once they start rolling out.
HIT is exploring broadcast opportunities in the U.S., and COO Charlie Caminada says picking up the Henson catalogue makes that goal seem more achievable. ‘We’re having a few exploratory discussions right now, and we hope we’ll know what our options are in the next few months.’ Caminada adds that he’s got a strong State-side team in place, but will have a look at how it’s organized, given the new broadcast goals and the sudden departure of chief marketing officer Matt Bostwick just before MIPTV.
Meanwhile, Henson has signed a feature deal for a sequel to MGM’s 2003 family hit Good Boy. And Lisa Henson says the company was working on a deal concerning its animation business at press time.