Who’s ready for a new big-screen animated feature starring Casper the Friendly Ghost? What about Roger Ramjet? These and countless other projects may come to fruition should DreamWorks Animation acquire ownership of company Classic Media.
The studio has reportedly bid $150 million to take ownership of the company, which holds the rights to characters like Casper, The Lone Ranger and He-Man. A source close to the sale says the DreamWorks offer is significantly higher than other bids and is forcing many competitors to bow out of the process.
As to why the Hollywood giant would want these ancient properties, it’s mostly because they’re easy to market. Characters like Casper and He-Man are already recognizable to audiences – meaning the studio’s marketing department doesn’t have to expend as much time, effort and money getting potential audiences to understand the product. Minimizing risk continues to be the name of the game for the major studios -- and a known property is almost always preferrable to something brand new from a business perspective.
If the deal goes through, DreamWorks would acquire the rights to the entire Classic Media library – but they can’t just take anything in the vault and build a franchise around it. Some of the properties, like The Lone Ranger, are already being developed at places like Disney. Classic Media doesn’t have complete control of all the rights for some of these characters, which is why the going rate is only $150 million and not significantly more.
Those issues don’t seem to be a deterrent to DreamWorks, though – the company clearly sees something (or several somethings) in the Classic Media library that they think they can update and market. We should have a better idea of what those things might be if DreamWorks manages to actually acquire the company. While that’s not a done deal yet, these reports seem to indicate that things are moving in that direction.