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Sony Brings Back the Wonder

21 Jun, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is resurrecting the recently shuttered Sony Wonder label, and plans on using the marquee as a home for its children's and family product.

Several existing Sony Pictures Home Entertainment programs will be branded with the new label, including “The Berenstain Bears” and the popular PBS TV series “Dragon Tales,” as well as “It's a Big, Big World,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon” and the animated “Stuart Little” series.

New programming targeting children and families also will be released under the Sony Wonder label.

“The family home entertainment market has been, and continues to be, a large and very important segment of our industry,” said Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop. “We are delighted to be able to continue the strong legacy of the Sony Wonder label as one of the most respected and highly recognizable brands within the family entertainment genre.”

The new Sony Wonder, he said, “will serve as a cornerstone for our marketing and sales strategic plans for family programming, and will house some of the most original and entertaining family titles in the business.”

Two executives who worked with Sony Wonder when it was part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment are joining Bishop's team.

Steve Okin, who was VP of development at Sony BMG, becomes Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's VP of family entertainment. He will oversee the development and acquisitions of non-feature family programming. Okin will jointly report to Lexine Wong, senior EVP of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and Adrian Alperovich, senior EVP and GM of the Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.

Olga Economou, who led the field sales staff in support of Sony Wonder programming at Sony BMG, has been appointed executive director of Sony Wonder. She will report to Marshall Forster, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's senior EVP, North America.

Sony Wonder, for years home to the “Sesame Street” line of videos as well as Christmas classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” was quietly shuttered earlier this year when parent Sony BMG Music Entertainment decided to concentrate on its core music business.

Last January, Classic Media left Sony Wonder for Genius Products, taking with it such perennial top sellers as “Rudolph,” “Frosty the Snowman” and the animated “VeggieTales” line.

A month later Sesame Workshop, too, ended its nearly 10-year association with Sony Wonder and cut a long-term deal with Genius that gives the latter company, 70% owned by The Weinstein Co., North American distribution rights to more than 100 programs, many of them “Sesame Street” episodes.

Sony Wonder's last releases shipped in November and included a 20th anniversary edition of The Transformers: The Movie and A Sesame Street Christmas Carol.

Sony Wonder formed in 1993 and quickly became one of the dominant children's video and audio labels in the business, issuing more than 50 video and 20 audio titles a year. The company early on established itself as a driving force in the sellthrough market, largely due to a lucrative distribution deal with Nickelodeon and strong ties with large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target Stores.

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