A Lassie animated movie? A new Casper cartoon? It’s all speculation, but DreamWorks has just purchased licensing company Classic Media for $155 million. Classic Media, which was founded by ex-Marvel CEO Eric Ellenbogen and ex-Broadway Video’s John Engelman in 2000, has long been one of the biggest behind-the-scenes media entities, amassing a huge library of, yes, classic characters including the Harvey and Gold Key comics libraries, in addition to The Lone Ranger, Lassie, Where’s Waldo, and many many more.

DreamWorks was among at least six bidders for Classic Media, an $82-million-a-year company that owns more than 450 family titles, including “Frosty the Snowman,” “George of the Jungle,” “Rocky & Bullwinkle” and contemporary bestsellers such as “VeggieTales.” Founded in 2000, the company is owned by Boomerang Media Holdings, part of the portfolio of private equity firm GTCR, which sources said had been eager to cash out its investment.

Via the purchase, DreamWorks now owns a bunch of iconic comics characters, including the Harvey library, which it purchased from Jeffrey Montgomery in 2000. Classic Media also controls a bunch of former Gold Key properties (Ellenbogen once worked at Golden Books) including Magnus, Doctor Solar and, even Little Lulu. They also own old Filmation (He-Man, Fat Albert) and Rankin/Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) programs. In short, Ellenbogen and Engelman have been very smart about picking up fallow characters over the years.

The purchase gives DreamWorks a solid IP library of perennial characters—while it doesn’t match the Disney and WB behemoths, it does give them a bunch of very strong legacy characters—and in a world where pre-awareness is priceless, they may have just gotten a bargain.


  1. Quickly eyeballing the situation, it looks to me like there is now only one major body of old-school comics not currently owned by a major film studio, and that’s Archie

  2. Didn’t know Lassie could fly small aircraft.

    They have a pretty cool and diverse portfolio: Gumby, Roger Ramjet, Godzilla, Dick Tracy (to name a few).

  3. They own the rights to the Archie cartoons.

    Classic media co-owns the Golden Book properties with Random House.

    “Random House, a unit of Germany’s Bertelsmann AG and the world’s largest general interest book publisher, said it acquired all the book publishing properties of Golden Books.

    Classic Media, which acquires and manages entertainment properties in a variety of media, bought the assets of Golden Books’ entertainment division, which include the movie, TV and home video libraries, and the production, licensing, and merchandising rights for Golden’s characters.”

    Their catalogue is here:
    (That includes Archie.)

    Lots of Saturday Morning live action! (Oh man… ISIS!)

    Dreamworks films are currently distributed by Disney/Touchstone. (Paramount distributes the animation through 2012.)

    DIC (currently part of Cookie Jar) is the last big chunk of television animation out there.

    Meanwhile, there are smaller IP companies out there, like Bagdasarian Productions, LLC., waiting to be acquired.

  4. $155 Million? For a company that makes $82 Million a year?

    Wow. All cash, so that’s cool, and they keep their jobs, but Dreamworks will make that back with one or two movies.

    Heck, Dreamworks will make that back with merchandising and licensing alone!

    Will we see some new Dreamworks titles from Ape?

  5. Dick Tracy is still owned by the Tribune company, Classic Media has the rights to the old cartoon series and characters who were created for that show, including the incredibly racist ones.

  6. Oh and the film rights to Tracy are still owned by Warren Beatty who has been very good at keeping new versions of Tracy (aside from the newspaper strip of course) from ever getting anywhere. So I don’t see a Tracy movie coming from Dreamworks any time soon.

  7. DreamWorks Studios is an American film studio which develops, produces, and distributes films, video games and -=] television programming [=-.

    Cool. How about some more Gumby? #icandreamright?

  8. Torsten,
    Re: Ape doing new DWA comics… It’s a safe bet. :)
    We have a great relationship with both companies and see this as a wonderful opportunity.

    We’ve already got ideas about what we want to do, but, if anyone has a request let’s hear it.

  9. I was worried that this might cancel the APE Richie Rich comics but this might just strengthen it, right?

    Requests? While I do like the revamp Richie, I still have a special place for the old stuff. And I think you guys know that with many fans with the inclusion of the older look stories as well. But I’d love to see a good reprint book collection. The Dark Horse Harvey collections were great and, with the high price of the Richie Rich volume of the resell market, I think there is a demand for a good RR book collection. Perhaps collecting Richie Rich & Casper, Super Richie, Vaults of Mystery, or Richie and Jackie Jokers? Those ones always had the best stories.

  10. Shark Jumper: You definitely know your Richie Rich! If I were asked to name the best stories, I would have listed the same ones you did (especially Vault of Mystery and Super Richie).

    Nat Gertler: I know Archie has some licensing agreements in place for animation rights, but you’re right: They are still not part of a film conglomerate. Personally, I hope they stay that way.

    Ron: The Godzilla rights only include the animation rights to the 1970s series, if my info is correct. Toho from Japan still owns all rights, and they are very much in control of what comes out bearing the Big G’s name and likeness.

  11. So this giant corporation is going to deal with a bottom of the barrel publisher like Ape?

    C’mon, this calls for a far more dignified approach, like IDW is doing with Popeye, for instance.

  12. HA! Ape is doing a pretty decent job, at least with their Kizoic kids comics! (I actually bought, and enjoyed, the first issue of Strawberry Shortcake!)

    Wow… they just announced a comic based on “Fruit Ninja”! 300 million downloads… 1% of that for comics… whoa…

    Hmmm… Ape could test the waters for old concepts, like “Ark II”.

    Oooh… here’s another company with lots of cool IP… Sid & Marty Krofft!