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Barbie Leaves Lionsgate

24 Mar, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Lionsgate and Mattel have ended their lucrative partnership in bringing Barbie to DVD.

Lionsgate president Steve Beeks won't comment, but insider sources say the two companies are no longer going to be producing “Barbie” DVDs together due to a disagreement over terms.

Sources say Lionsgate passed because the studio felt the distribution fees offered by Mattel were too low.

The partnership began in 2001 and has resulted in seven “Barbie” DVDs, all made for video, that have sold a combined total of more than 13 million units. The latest release, Barbie Fairytopia: Mermadia, was released March 14 and debuted at No. 6 on the VideoScan First Alert DVD sales chart, a strong opening for a direct-to-video release.

The “Barbie” movies are all feature-length and CG-animated. The first title in the series was Barbie in The Nutcracker, followed by Barbie as Rapunzel in 2002, Barbie of Swan Lake in 2003, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper in 2004, and Barbie Fairytopia and Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus last year.

Lionsgate will release one final Barbie DVD in May, The Barbie Diaries, which portrays Barbie as a high-school teen. The studio also will retain rights to all “Barbie” catalog titles.

There is no word on a new distribution partner, although sources speculate Barbie may wind up at Universal Studios Home Entertainment, where Glenn Ross — who brought Barbie to Artisan Home Entertainment, Lionsgate's predecessor, in the first place — now runs the family home entertainment division.

Universal executives were not available for comment.

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