LONDON & SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Genius Products, LLC, The Weinstein Company LLC (TWC) and Entertainment Rights Plc (“ER”) of London, England, and Classic Media Holdings, Inc. of New York City announced today that they have entered into long-term agreements for the distribution and co-production and co-financing of multiple home video and videogame productions for the family, children and teen markets. ER is one of the U.K.’s leading independent media groups specializing in the ownership of children’s and family programming, characters and brands. ER recently announced an agreement to acquire U.S.-based Classic Media, which is still subject to, amongst other things, ER shareholders’ approval. Genius Products will be the exclusive North American distributor of home video and certain digital media distribution rights in Classic's and ER's catalogs of children's and faith-based animated films as well as other titles and series.
The announcement was made today by Stephen K. Bannon, Chairman, and Trevor Drinkwater, President and CEO of Genius Products, Inc. (OTCBB:GNPI), Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chairmen of The Weinstein Company, Mike Heap, CEO of Entertainment Rights Plc, and Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman, founders of Classic Media.
Under the terms of the multi-year distribution agreements, Genius Products will be the North American home video and digital distributor for ER’s and Classic’s libraries of more than, in aggregate, 4,000 programs. Included are Lassie, Fat Albert, Postman Pat, Rupert Bear, the best-selling holiday specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and VeggieTales, the world’s most popular faith-based kids’ brand with more than 50 million videos sold.
Genius will also have North American home video and digital distribution rights in new productions, including The Lone Ranger, Gumby and She Ra. In addition, Genius will have North American distribution rights for a slate of up to 12 new videogames to be produced and financed by Genius based on titles in the ER and Filmation catalogs.
“We are very excited about the new partnerships with ER and Classic Media. The economic model associated with the new agreements is a great fit for our business and is expected to add approximately $75 million in annual gross revenues and should further enhance our operating margins,” said Trevor Drinkwater, President and CEO of Genius Products. “The combination of perennial titles such as Rudolph, Frosty, Peter Cottontail, Fat Albert and The Archies, the introduction into America of the highly successful brands from London, Rupert Bear and Postman Pat, exciting new productions, and VeggieTales, the most popular faith-based animated children’s entertainment, will instantly position us as a leader in the important family/faith content segment.”
In addition, Mr. Drinkwater stated, “We believe our experienced management team, proven infrastructure and marketing expertise working closely with Sony Wonder, Classic Media’s prior distributor, will facilitate a quick and seamless transition for our retail partners."
"These agreements offer an unprecedented opportunity to distribute the characters and brands of ER and Classic throughout North America, creating one of the leading portfolios of contemporary classic and new children's DVD’s and digital rights in the world,” stated Mike Heap, CEO, Entertainment Rights Plc. “We will be introducing North America to some of our leading characters for the first time and will, once Classic becomes part of the ER Group, be exploiting Classic’s content to ensure the best placement possible in the world’s largest media market – the U.S. – and will expand our brand recognition as we sell merchandise through American retailers. We are delighted to be partnering with Genius and in particular we look forward to working with The Weinstein Company, who we believe have a unique perspective on brand development in the U.S.”
“Bob and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the business that ER and Classic created and believe that their content is unmatched internationally in the children and family category,” said Harvey Weinstein. “We are excited to begin working on co-production opportunities and look forward to many projects going forward.”
ER, Classic and TWC will be co-producing and co-financing new animated children's productions, including Gumby, Kung Fu Magoo, Lone Ranger, Rupert Bear, Postman Pat and She-Ra. North American home video and digital distribution of co-productions will be handled by Genius Products and ER will distribute internationally. The productions will be managed by Eric Robinson, VP of Production and Development of TWC.
Eric Ellenbogen, CEO of Classic Media, commented, “After many successful years with Sony Wonder, we chose Genius Products as our distributor because their combination of major studio infrastructure and entrepreneurial spirit will allow us to aggressively expand our home entertainment business. We are confident that this transition will be seamless for our retail partners and the consumer.”
Genius Products will maintain both physical and digital distribution rights for the terms of the agreements. The transactions will automatically grow the Genius Products library to over 2,800 titles.
“I am very proud of our early track record of strategically expanding our position in the entertainment industry through the introduction of new brands and content-provider partnerships across the four verticals of Sports, Family/Faith, Lifestyle and Independent Film product segments,” said Stephen K. Bannon, Chairman of Genius Products. “The new agreement with ER and Classic will position us as one of the leaders in the Family/Faith segment just as our agreement with ESPN positioned us as a leader in the Sports segment.” Additionally, Genius’s initiative with ER in the development and production of new videogames based on ER catalog titles marks a significant advance in the expansion of Genius’s business.”
About Genius Products
Genius Products, Inc. (OTCBB:GNPI), along with The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC, together owns Genius Products, LLC, a leading independent home-entertainment distribution company that produces, licenses and distributes a valuable library of motion pictures, television programming, family, lifestyle and trend entertainment on DVD and other emerging platforms through its expansive network of retailers throughout the U.S. Genius handles the distribution, marketing and sales for such brands as WWE®, Asia Extreme(TM), Baby Genius®, Dragon Dynasty(TM), Dimension Films, ESPN®, IFC®, NBC News®, Sundance Channel Home Entertainment®, Wellspring(TM), RHI Entertainment and The Weinstein Company®. Genius Products, Inc. is the managing member of Genius Products, LLC, in which it holds a 30% equity interest.
About Entertainment Rights Plc
Entertainment Rights Plc is one of the UK's leading specialist media groups focused on the ownership of high quality children's and family programming, characters and brands. ER owns or controls the rights to many global characters, including Postman Pat®, Rupert Bear®, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe®, Basil Brush®, Jess the Cat™, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids™, She-Ra®, Jim Jam and Sunny™ and Little Red Tractor™, as well as selected rights to brands such as Mattel's Barbie™, Scholastic's Clifford™, Hasbro's Transformers™, Harveytoons Casper the Friendly Ghost and Classic Media's Felix the Cat.
About Classic Media Holdings, Inc.
Classic Media Holdings, Inc. manages some of the world's most recognizable family properties across all media including feature film, television, home video and consumer products. The company's extensive library of approximately 3,500 episodes of animation programming and live-action characters includes such well known brands as Lassie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Lone Ranger, Underdog, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Mr. Magoo, Richie Rich, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Little Lulu, Pat the Bunny, Lamb Chop, Dick Tracy, Gerald McBoing Boing, Roger Ramjet, George of the Jungle and VeggieTales.
About The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company (TWC) was created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films Corp. in 1979. TWC is a multi-media company that officially launched on October 1, 2005. Dimension Films, the genre label that was founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, is also included under the TWC banner. The Weinsteins are actively working on the production, development, acquisition and distribution of projects for TWC and Dimension.
Safe Harbor Statement
Except for historical matters contained herein, the matters discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements reflect assumptions and involve risks and uncertainties that may affect Genius Products' business, forecasts, projections and prospects, and cause actual results to differ materially from those in these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements relating to the number of anticipated home video and videogame releases, statements regarding our anticipated gross revenues and operating margins and our stated mission, and any other statements relating to the described transaction and the anticipated effects thereof that are not historical statements of fact. Actual results could vary for many reasons, including but not limited to, the success of the strategic alliance between The Weinstein Company, Genius Products and Entertainment Rights PLC and Classic Media Holdings, Inc., including the ability to co-produce home video and videogame titles, our ability to continue to acquire and keep valuable content or expand the distribution partnership, the unpredictability of audience demand, the success of TWC titles at box office and the popularity of our titles on DVD, especially the Entertainment Rights PLC and Classic Media Holdings, Inc. titles, our ability to perform under the terms of our agreement with our content providers, especially Entertainment Rights PLC and Classic Media Holdings, Inc.,, our ability to continue to manage our significant growth, the effect of technological change and the availability of alternative forms of entertainment, our ability to maximize our operating leverage. Other such risks and uncertainties include the matters described in Genius Products, Inc. filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this press release.