Website Cartoon Brew (Update: and now everyone else) is reporting (via the Wall Street Journal) that DreamWorks has bought intellectual-property rights holder Classic Media for $155 million, and plans to rename the purchase “DreamWorks Classics.”
This represents quite a major shift in the ownership of a lot of classic cartoon characters, particularly those not owned by a major conglomerate (such as Time-Warner or Disney). Classic Media happens to own a lot of properties, including ones I didn’t even know they owned. While some of it’s live-action, the rights include:
- The Filmation library (He-Man, etc.) save licensed property productions (Archie, possibly Fat Albert).
- The Total Television library (Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, King Leonardo)
- The Lone Ranger
- Felix the Cat
- The Jay Ward library (Rocky and Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle)
- Most of the pre-mid-70s Rankin-Bass library (Rudolph, Frosty)
- The Harvey Comics (and most non-Popeye Famous Studios) characters (Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, Richie Rich)
And many others, too. (A full list is available here, with the usual Wikipedia caveats.)
Given the purchase price is $155 million, DreamWorks acquired all of the above for a song. I’m sure they’ll easily make back the purchase price with even one movie (such as the upcoming “Peabody and Sherman” film). Hopefully, DreamWorks will also be a good steward for all of these characters, and give them the attention they deserve.