The DIC Entertainment Corporation (//) (branded as The Incredible World of DiC and formally known as DIC Audiovisuel, DIC Enterprises, DIC Animation City, DIC Entertainment, L.P., and DIC Productions) was an international and French-American film and television production company, that is mostly associated as an animation studio. On June 20, 2008, DIC was acquired by the Cookie Jar Group and was folded into it. As of 2021, most of the DIC library is currently owned by WildBrain (formerly DHX Media) after DHX acquired the Cookie Jar Group on October 22, 2012.
|Type||Limited liability company|
|Defunct||December 6, 2008|
|Fate||Acquired by, merged with, and folded into Cookie Jar Group|
|Successor||Cookie Jar Group|
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, U.S.|
|Andy Heyward (Chairman & CEO)|
|Products||Children's television shows|
|Parent||Radio Television Luxembourg (1971–1986)|
Independent (1986–1993, 2000–2008)
Capital Cities/ABC Video Enterprises, Inc. (Limited Partnership, 1993–1995)
The Walt Disney Company (Limited Partnership, 1995–2000)
In addition to animated and live-action television shows, while under Disney, DIC produced live-action feature films, including Meet the Deedles (1998) and Inspector Gadget (1999), and licensed various anime series such as Sailor Moon, Saint Seiya and Speed Racer X.
DIC Audiovisuel (1971-1982)
In 1981, DIC established a partnership with the Japanese animation studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha, as one of the overseas animation subcontractors. They helped animate many of TMS's programs, starting with Ulysses 31. They also produced the unaired pilot Lupin VIII. This partnership lasted until 1996.
Launch of the U.S. arm (1982-1986)
DIC Audiovisuel's U.S. arm - DIC Enterprises, was founded in April 1982 in Burbank, California by Andy Heyward, a former story writer at Hanna-Barbera, to translate DIC productions into English. The company produced television animation for both network broadcast and syndication, outsourced its non-creative work overseas, enforced anti-union policies and hired staff on a per-program basis to cut costs. For some in the industry, DIC stood for "Do It Cheap". With directors Bruno Bianchi and Bernard Deyriès, Chalopin and Heyward were able to make DIC an effective but restrained animation company.
Soon after joining DIC, Heyward developed Inspector Gadget, which became a successful production out of the U.S. office. DIC partnered with toy makers and greeting card companies for character based product lines that could be made into animated series. Thus DIC productions came with built in advertisers and some time financiers. Between Inspector Gadget and The Littles (the latter produced for ABC), the company became profitable.
In 1983, DIC opened its own Japan-based animation facility known as K.K. DIC Asia for animation production on their shows in order to bypass overseas animation subcontractors.
As the only non-union animation firm, in 1984 DIC faced a unionization effort which failed.
Move to North America and Andy Heyward ownership (1987-1993)
From late 1986 to 1987, Heyward, along with investors Bear Stearns & Co. and Prudential Insurance Co., bought Chalopin and Radio Television Luxembourg's 52% stake in DIC in a $70 million leveraged buyout and made the US headquarters the company's main base of operations. After the buyout, Chalopin, Bianchi, Deyriès and producer Tetsuo Katayama left the company to be replaced by Robby London and Michael Maliani as key employees. After selling his shares in DIC, Chalopin retained DIC's original offices in France as well as DIC's Japanese animation facility and formed the company C&D (Créativité et Développement) in 1987 to continue producing animated shows, while the Japanese studio was renamed to K.K. C&D Asia, with itself continuing trading until 1996.
After the buyout, DIC was heavily in debt and the foreign rights to their library were sold in 1987 to Saban Productions, who then sold the rights to Chalopin's C&D. At the time, Heyward considered Chalopin an enemy because of the purchase and the situation permanently poisoned DIC and Saban's relationship. DIC sued Saban for damages; in 1991, both companies reached a settlement.
By 1987, DIC Enterprises' parent company was known as DIC Animation City, Inc. DIC also entered the toy industry with the development of the Old MacDonald talking toyline. In December, DIC arranged a deal to merge with Computer Memories Inc., a former computer component manufacturer and then public shell company. A dissident Computer Memories shareholder scuttled the deal in February 1988.
With the buyout debt still a burden, the animation market beginning to soften with the rise of videotape viewing and a glut of new shows & new kids cable channels, Japanese contract animation companies rates increased 40% from 1986 to 1988 due to the yen exchange rate. In 1987, DIC moved production of Dennis the Menace to a Canadian animation firm for grants and tax breaks from the Canadian government. The company started moving some work to Korea and Taiwan. By the 1987–1988 season, DIC had shows on all three major networks Saturday mornings: six half-hours of shows and 50 half-hours per week in syndication.
Prudential Insurance Co. purchased additional equity of DIC Animation City in August 1989 while increasing DIC's debt capacity. For the 1989–1990 season, DIC provided 30% of the networks' Saturday morning schedule with a total of 60 hours per week on networks, local stations, and cable channels. Four new programs debuted that season on cable and syndication.
On September 11, 1989, DIC launched the 26-hours-a-week Funtown programming block on the CBN Family Channel. DIC was also to produce four specials, with the first launching on Funtown with the others, mostly holiday specials, for the fourth quarter of 1989. A special based on The New Archies was slated for the first quarter of 1990.
Throughout the Early 1990s, DIC entered into partnerships with the Italian studio Reteitalia, S.p.A. and the Spanish network Telecinco, both owned by the Fininvest group, and co-produced shows with them both.
On June 10, 1993, DIC started up an educational unit. On July 12, Buena Vista Home Video signed a multimillion-dollar multiyear North American licensing deal with DIC which included over 1,000 half-hours worth of animated content from the studio, alongside the creation of a dedicated home video label and interactive and multimedia opportunities. The first DIC VHS releases under the new deal were released in Early 1994, with the label being branded as "DIC Toon-Time Video".
Limited Partnerships with Capital Cities/ABC and Disney (1993-2000)
After reportedly being in talks with a buyout from Capital Cities/ABC and PolyGram, on July 26, 1993, DIC Animation City and Capital Cities/ABC Video Enterprises, Inc. formed a Delaware limited partnership joint venture called DIC Entertainment, L.P. to control DIC's production library and provide material for CAVE to distribute in the international market. Heyward retained a small ownership stake in the limited partnership. DIC Animation City was supposed to remain as an independent company but was subsequently folded a year later. The two companies later formed another Delaware limited partnership called DIC Productions, L.P., which owned the production/distribution venture of animated and live-action programming for the children's television and video markets. Capital Cities/ABC owned a 95% majority stake in the venture, while Heyward owned the remaining 5%. Both Limited Partnerships eventually became the successor to DIC Animation City.
On November 21, 1993, DIC announced they had formed a multimedia unit called DIC Interactive. With this, the company moved their headquarters to a larger building in the Burbank area.
In October 1995, DIC announced they would be opening an animation office in France in partnership with Hampster Productions (which at the time, was 33% minority owned by DIC's majority owner Capital Cities/ABC). In March 1997, the studio was opened up and was named Les Studios Tex, which DIC was a shareholder in.
In January 1996, DIC became part of The Walt Disney Company conglomerate following Disney's acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC. In the same year, the company launched a feature-film unit known as DIC Films and signed a first-look deal with Walt Disney Pictures, which was later extended in 1998.
DIC launched a direct to video division in April 1998 with Riley Katherine Ellis, a Caravan Pictures producer, hired as division head. The first release planned was Madeline: Lost in Paris in spring 1999, with all the division's releases to be distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. In May 1998, DIC signed a deal to provide a children's programming block, Freddy's Firehouse, for the Pax Net television network.
Return to independent (2000-2004)
On September 25, 2000, it was announced that Andy Heyward, backed by investment firms Bain Capital and Chase Capital Partners, would purchase back DIC from The Walt Disney Company. By November 18, 2000, Disney agreed to sell back the company, which the deal was closed by November 25, officially allowing DIC to produce shows alone again without the limitations of Disney, coinciding with the relaunch of DIC's international sales division at MIPCOM that year.
In February 2001, DIC announced their return to the home video market, forming a new division titled DIC Home Entertainment and begun releasing products, starting in May 2001. However, this was delayed due to DIC's issues in finding a distributor partner, which eventually happened in July 2001 when DIC signed a deal with Lions Gate Home Entertainment for North American distribution of DIC Home Entertainment products. In June 2001, DIC announced they would purchase Golden Books Family Entertainment for $170 Million. However, DIC eventually backed out of the deal due to the high costs of the purchase and the company was instead co-purchased by Random House for the book rights and Classic Media for the entertainment rights.
At the beginning of 2002, a new parent company called DIC Entertainment Corporation was formed to hold DIC's assets, including DIC Entertainment, L.P. and their stake in Les Studios Tex. July 2002, DIC purchased the Mommy & Me pre-school label.
In January 2003, DIC announced three syndicated children's programming E/I blocks called DIC Kids Network. In April, DIC sued Speed Racer Enterprises, alleging that SRE had sub-licensed the worldwide exploitation rights for Speed Racer to DIC the previous year and then ended the agreement without DIC knowing. Later in July, DIC signed a television production deal with POW! Entertainment for Stan Lee's Secret Super Six, a series about teens with alien superpowers who are taught about humanity by Lee.
Going public and final years (2004-2008)
In March 2006, DIC re-acquired the international rights to 20 of their shows from The Walt Disney Company and Jetix Europe, who had owned them since Disney bought the previous owners Saban Entertainment in 2001. In June 2006, the company acquired the Copyright Promotions Licensing Group. In the same month, Jeffrey Edell joined DIC as president and COO.
DIC Entertainment, KOL (AOL's kids online) and CBS Corporation agreed to a new three hour long programming block for Saturday mornings on CBS called KOL Secret Slumber Party, which was launched on September 15, 2006. On September 15, 2007, a new programming block KEWLopolis premiered, a joint venture between DIC, CBS, and American Greetings.
In October 2007, DIC sued the Dam Company, claiming that they alleged claims of fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation in connection with Dam's Troll doll, and DIC's Trollz, which was created after DIC licensed the brand from Dam. Dam counter-sued DIC, claiming that the company financially misrepresented its ability to create and market a modern troll doll toy campaign and destroyed the image and goodwill of the doll.
Cookie Jar Group purchase (2008)/DHX Media purchase (2012)
On June 20, 2008, DIC Entertainment and Canadian Cookie Jar Group announced an agreement to merge, the transaction being estimated at $87.6 million. President Jeffrey Edell was instrumental in closing the deal and led the merger with Cookie Jar. The merger was completed on July 23, 2008, and the company became a subsidiary of Cookie Jar Entertainment. Shortly after the purchase, Cookie Jar folded DIC into their own operations. Cookie Jar was in turn acquired by DHX Media on October 22, 2012.
- DIC Kids Network – a set of three syndicated children's programming E/I blocks announced in January 2003.
- Chinese blocks with ABC:
- Dragon Club (1994–unknown).
- Panda Club (1994–unknown).
- CBS broadcast blocks, both with one additional partner:
Freddy's Firehouse (FFH) was a children's educational programming block produced by DIC Entertainment and distributed by Buena Vista International Television, both Disney affiliates in May 1998. At the block's start, most of the programming would be from DIC's library and was planned to air on Pax Net for two years with it running on weekends with three hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday. Buena Vista would be free to sell to other outlets international. However, Pax went with its own Cloud 9 block, which itself would also contain DIC programmes.
Funtown was a programming block on CBN Family Channel. The block was launched on September 11, 1989, with 26-hours-a-week programming. DIC was tasked with the advertising sales while the Family Channel handled distribution and marketing. Funtown ran from 7 to 9 a.m. on weekdays and from 4 to 6 p.m and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekends. The line up of shows was a mix of formats, from live action-animated hybrids to live-action, and programs ranging from original to off-network shows, whether produced by DiC or other companies. In addition, a companion club program was supposed to be developed. DiC was also going to produce four specials each quarter with the launching of Funtown, combined with the others, mostly holiday specials, for the fourth quarter of 1989.
Kideo TV was a programming block by DIC with LBS Communications and Mattel. Metromedia stations agreed to carry the block by January 1986. Kideo TV was launched in April 1986. Series in the block included Rainbow Brite, Popples and Ulysses 31 plus The Get Along Gang reruns.
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