Thomas the Tank Engine remains on the market, and while several suitors are interested in acquiring the property from Apax Partners, no deals are yet imminent.
Recent rumors had kids producer Chorion, Viacom, Disney, Entertainment One and Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co. all interested in the property. Some reports said a $700 million deal with Chorion was looming, though sources close to the sale told the Hollywood Reporter everything is in the early stages and no deal is imminent.
Apax, which owns Thomas producer HIT Entertainment, has been looking to sell the property to shore up its finances, which have taken a hit from declining DVD sales. Disney previously attempted to acquire the property.
Thomas the Tank Engine was created by the Rev. W.V. Awdry and his son, Christopher, for a 1946 children’s book. The character came to TV in the series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends in 1984, and has since become a global phenomenon that is almost universally popular with children — boys in particular — ages 2-6.