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Barbie in Universal's 'Pocket'

11 Apr, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Barbie's found a new home for her DVDs, and she's taking fellow Mattel doll Polly Pocket with her.

Universal Studios and Mattel April 11 announced a multipicture, multiyear alliance for worldwide marketing and distribution of feature-length DVDs.

The first release under the new pact will be a direct-to-video Barbie film, Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses, and the first-ever feature-length movie starring Polly Pocket, PollyWorld.

And that's only the beginning, said Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios.

“Given the breadth of Universal's film, television, home entertainment and theme parks businesses, this alliance clearly presents compelling opportunities to further expand upon this partnership across additional platforms,” Meyers said.

Barbie DVDs had previously been marketed and distributed by Lionsgate, but the mini-major abruptly ended its five-year relationship with Mattel last month due to a disagreement over terms.

Glenn Ross, EVP and GM of Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Productions, had initially brokered the Barbie-Lionsgate deal in 2001, when he ran family entertainment for what was then Artisan Home Entertainment. Last year Ross joined Universal, and when Lionsgate dropped Barbie last month it was widely speculated that Mattel would find a new home for its doll at Universal.

Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, said Barbie and Polly Pocket “are a spectacular complement to Universal's expanding portfolio of family franchises and burgeoning DVD originals.”

Lionsgate and Mattel produced seven “Barbie” DVDs, all of them computer-animated and made for video. Since the first “Barbie” title, Barbie in The Nutcracker, was released in the fall of 2001, the franchise has racked up worldwide sales of 27 million units, Universal said.

The latest Barbie DVD, Barbie: Fairytopia — Mermadia, was released March 14 by Lionsgate and debuted at No. 6 on the VideoScan First Alert DVD sales chart, a strong opening for a direct-to-video release. Lionsgate will release The Barbie Diaries May 9.

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