Major indie film studio Lionsgate has acquired rights to distribute HIT Ent.’s portfolio of children’s programming on home video in the US and Canada. The agreement gives Lionsgate exclusive marketing, sales and distribution rights to such iconic franchises as Thomas & Friends, Bob The Builder, Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Fireman Sam, as well as newly acquired brands such as Fifi & The Flowertots and Roary The Racing Car from Chapman Ent., Shaun the Sheep and the award-winning Wallace & Gromit films from Aardman Animations, and Fraggle Rock and other titles from The Jim Henson Co.
Lionsgate is scheduled to begin distributing HIT’s full slate of home entertainment releases this May. September will see the release of Thomas and the Great Discovery, the brand’s first feature-length direct-to-DVD movie since 2005. The animated movie features actor Pierce Brosnan as the narrator.
“The HIT library will be one of the most treasured jewels in our family entertainment crown,” says Lionsgate president and co-chief operating officer Steve Beeks. “With the opportunity to combine such evergreen worldwide brands as Barney, Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder with our existing properties, including Marvel, Doodlebops, Bratz and Clifford, this agreement propels us into the top three family entertainment distributors in North America for non-theatrical product.’
An industry leader in the children’s television market, Lionsgate handles DVD releases for such prominent brands as Scholastic’s Clifford The Big Red Dog, American Greetings’ The Care Bears, Cookie Jar Ent.’s The Doodlebops, MGA’s Bratz and Nelvana’s Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends. Also under its wing are the anime favorite Speed Racer and the Marvel Animated Features series.