Lionsgate has acquired the home entertainment distribution rights to worldwide family entertainment leader HIT Entertainment’s extensive portfolio of award-winning children’s programming in the United States and Canada.
Under the terms of the agreement, Lionsgate obtains the exclusive marketing, sales and distribution rights to HIT’s iconic franchises including Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Barney, Angelina Ballerina, and Fireman Sam; newly acquired brands such as Fifi & the Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car from Chapman Entertainment; Aardman Animations’ award-winning Wallace & Gromit, which includes four TV half hour episodes, and Shaun the Sheep; as well as The Jim Henson Company’s Fraggle Rock and additional family titles from the Henson library.
Lionsgate is scheduled to begin distributing HIT’s full slate of home entertainment releases in May 2008. Thomas and the Great Discovery, the brand’s first feature length direct to DVD movie since 2005, featuring Pierce Brosnan as the narrator, will be one of the first titles released in September 2008.
Lionsgate and HIT noted that, anticipating the emerging digital marketplace, the agreement encompasses electronic sell-through to the HIT owned titles as well as DVD distribution rights. Lionsgate currently has non-theatrical family home entertainment market share of approximately 9% and, with the new partnership with HIT, this non-theatrical family home entertainment market share is expected to grow to approximately 15%.