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Classic Popeye Sails to DVD

6 Jun, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

After years of living in the public domain, Popeye is going legit.

Cartoon's famous spinach-eating sailor man is coming to DVD next year from Warner Home Video in a big way — even bigger than Bluto, Popeye's larger than-life nemesis.

Warner on Tuesday announced a far-reaching agreement with Hearst Entertainment and King Features Syndicate that gives the studio exclusive worldwide home entertainment distribution rights to all “Popeye” theatrical shorts and TV cartoons.

"This is a huge event in the history of the home video industry," said George Feltenstein, SVP of classic catalog marketing for Warner Home Video. "The classic “Popeye” cartoons, one of the most popular and successful series of theatrical animated short subjects of all time, has never been given the benefit of an authorized home video release. During the entire videocassette era, the classic “Popeye” library was not available for legitimate release due to rights issues, which have finally been resolved. Now, with DVD household penetration at an all-time high, Warner is proud to finally have the ability to bring all of the great adventures of the Sailor Man, Olive Oyl, Bluto, Wimpy, Swee' Pea, and their friends to home audiences around the world."

The distribution deal covers all of the original 231 Popeye animated shorts released theatrically by Paramount Pictures between 1933 and 1957. Warner also has licensed the exclusive rights to 220 Popeye made-for-TV animated shorts produced from 1960 to 1962, 65 episodes of "The Continuing Adventures of Popeye," produced from 1978 to 1981 (and consisting of 161 animated shorts) and 26 "Popeye & Son" shorts produced in 1987.

Warner's first Popeye DVD release is expected to street in 2007.

The Popeye theatrical slate includes 120 black & white shorts (106 of them produced by Fleischer Studios, the other 14 by Famous Studios) and 111 Technicolor cartoons (three produced by Fleischer Studios and 108 produced by Famous Studios).

Warner Home Video said it will start work immediately on preservation and restoration activities.

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