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Disney Acquires ‘Muppets' and ‘Bear in the Big Blue House'

17 Feb, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Walt Disney Co. has purchased from The Jim Henson Co. the rights to “The Muppets” and “Bear in the Big Blue House” properties for an undisclosed amount.

Under terms of the deal, Disney will own copyrights and trademarks to all Muppet TV, film and library assets, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo, in addition to a similar agreement for all assets pertaining to “Bear in the Big Blue House,” according to company officials.

“Disney's principal plan is to strengthen these properties with new productions and enhance and revitalize merchandising and licensing programs,” said spokesperson Michelle Bergman.

Both properties to date have had licensing agreements between ABC/Disney and Henson for a variety of cable TV programs, merchandising and theme park attractions.

It remains to be seen what affect the Disney acquisition will have on current home video distribution agreements for “Muppets” and “Bear” product with MGM Home Entertainment and Columbia TriStar.

At deadline, representatives from MGM and Columbia were unavailable for comment.

Bergman said there is “certainly a possibility” Disney will incorporate the properties into proprietary home video content in addition to TV shows, stage and theme park productions.

“It could be more of anything,” Bergman said. “Exact programming opportunities will be announced in the future.”

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