Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DreamWorks and Classic Media

DreamWorks Animation is in talks of acquiring Classic Media, a New York-based production company that holds the rights to several classic cartoons, characters and several other things. Since DreamWorks tends to make films based off of pre-existing source material (How to Train Your Dragon and upcoming projects like Rise of the Guardians, Pig Scrolls and Happy Smekday!), this would seem like a perfect move for them to expand their roster.

Among the things Classic Media owns is the rights to all of Jay Wards cartoons: The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right. DreamWorks is already working on a feature film based on the Mr. Peabody and Sherman segments of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, which is slated to open on November 8, 2013.

What else? The Where's Wally?/Where's Waldo? books. A live-action film is currently in development at MGM. Maybe the rights may revert to DreamWorks and they may pick up the Waldo project. Who knows. They'll also get Felix the Cat, whose recent spin-offs last appeared nearly over a decade ago. Interesting thing is that there was a feature-length film (Felix the Cat: The Movie), so it's possible that DreamWorks could try to make a Felix the Cat film and give the classic cat a film he deserves, unlike the one that first appeared in 1989. Most of Rankin-Bass' pre-1974 films are also owned by Classic Media, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Classic Media also owns the rights to Filmation's cartoons, such as He-Man and the Master of the Universe. They also have the rights to the Little Golden Books, the UPA's animated library (Mr. Magoo), Big Idea (VeggieTales), Harvey Comics (Casper, Richie Rich) and catalogues that own the rights to Dick Tracy, Voltron, Lassie and several others.

So if DreamWorks were to acquire them, they would have a lot of potential projects for their upcoming slate, which is usually massive compared to other animation studios. The only problem is though, they'll probably follow the route that other studios are taking by updating classic characters. Sony Pictures Animation already did it with The Smurfs and they're doing the same for Popeye, Illumination's got Clifford the Big Red Dog and Woody Woodpecker in the works. Fox has the awful Alvin and the Chipmunks films, and Warner Bros. did Yogi Bear. Knowing DreamWorks' recent string of critical successes, they may actually do the classic characters some justice. We may never know.

Do you think DreamWorks will acquire Classic Media? Do you it's a good move? Or would you rather see DreamWorks sticking to their own upcoming projects and not add more to the roster?

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