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Lionsgate to Become Sole U.S. Distributor for 'Bratz'

6 Dec, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Bratz: The Movie

Barbie may have left the building, but a bunch of “Bratz” are taking her place.

Lionsgate, the feisty minimajor that for years has been one of the leading suppliers in the children's nontheatrical DVD market, is expected to announce today that it is becoming the sole U.S. distributor for the entire “Bratz” DVD catalog, including five titles previously distributed in the domestic market by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Lionsgate also will distribute two new “Bratz” animated DVD titles next year, beginning in February with Bratz Kidz Fairy Tales. They'll be distributed not just in the United States, but also in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The exclusive arrangement comes as part of a newly extended agreement between Lionsgate and MGA Entertainment. The two companies initially partnered last year for the distribution of new direct-to-DVD “Bratz” productions as well as Bratz: The Movie, the first-ever live-action feature film based on the top-selling brand of fashion dolls.

Bratz opened theatrically in August and grossed $10 million in U.S. theaters; the film arrived on DVD Nov. 27 backed by an essay contest sweepstakes in which Lionsgate is offering four scholarships valued at $60,000.

Lionsgate later this year will release new “Bratz” interactive DVDs based on an agreement with Bratz licensee XLT. The minimajor also has gained North American video-on-demand and electronic sellthrough rights for the “Bratz” catalog, and VOD/EST rights for the United Kingdom and Ireland for two new titles in 2008.

“The Bratz brand continues to dominate the North American market, and we believe that there is unlimited growth potential in the U.K., where the brand has been a true phenomenon,” said Anne Parducci, EVP of marketing and family entertainment for Lionsgate. “By presenting all home entertainment products under one roof, including new digital platforms, we are encountering far greater opportunities to increase catalog sales and brand awareness.”

Over the last two years, more than 4 million “Bratz” DVDs have been shipped to retailers, in addition to 500,000 CDs.

Parducci said that while new “Barbie” productions may have moved over to Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Lionsgate continues to distribute a healthy chunk of catalog “Barbie” product.

But in terms of new releases, “Bratz” is now the supplier's primary product line for girls between the ages of 6 and 10, It's also a key driver in the lucrative children's nontheatrical market, where Lionsgate enjoys a consistent fourth-place ranking, behind Walt Disney Studios, Warner and Paramount.

“I think that's quite commendable, because we don't have a network feeding us programming,” Parducci said. “Everything we have, we have to go out and acquire, and we're always looking for great brand partners.”

Parducci said that while Lionsgate has its boy bases covered with its Marvel Animated Features, the extended MGA deal gives it a significantly greater role in the young girls market, which is a lot easier to market to.

“I do think the boys side is more challenging because they tend to get into video games, and by the time they are 8, they are pretty much entrenched in gaming,” she said. “But with girls, we're still able to reach the 6- to 10-year-olds.”

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