DIC Entertainment Corporation
Formerly
  • DIC Audiovisuel (1971–1987, French studio)
  • DIC Enterprises, Inc. (1982–1993, U.S. studio)
  • DIC Animation City, Inc. (1985–1993)
  • DIC Entertainment, L.P. (1993–2002)
  • DIC Productions, L.P. (1994–2001)
Company typePublic
AIM: DEKEq.L
IndustryAnimation
Founded1971; 53 years ago (1971)
FounderJean Chalopin[1]
DefunctDecember 6, 2008; 15 years ago (2008-12-06)
FateAcquired by, merged with, and folded into Cookie Jar Group
SuccessorsCookie Jar Group
DHX Media
HeadquartersBurbank, California, U.S.
Former headquarters:
France
Key people
Andy Heyward (Chairman, CEO)[2][3]
ProductsChildren's television series
Parent
Divisions
  • DIC Consumer Products
  • DIC Home Entertainment
  • DIC Tune-Time Audio
Subsidiaries
The evolution of WildBrain
1968FilmFair London is founded
1971DIC Audiovisuel is founded
1972Strawberry Shortcake brand is first developed
1974CPLG is founded
1976CINAR and Colossal Pictures are founded
1982DIC Enterprises is founded
1984Ragdoll Productions is founded
1987DIC Audiovisuel closes
1988Studio B Productions is founded
1992Epitome Pictures is founded
1993DIC Enterprises becomes DIC Entertainment
1994Wild Brain is founded‚ and Red Rover Studios is founded, DIC Entertainment brands as The Incredible World of DIC
1995Platinum Disc Corporation is founded
1996CINAR buys FilmFair's library
1997Decode Entertainment is founded
1999Wild Brain acquires Colossal Pictures' employee base
2002Nerd Corps Entertainment is founded
2004Halifax Film Company is founded, CINAR rebrands as Cookie Jar Group
2005Platinum Disc Corporation merge as Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
2006Decode and Halifax Film merge as DHX Media, DIC acquires CPLG, and Ragdoll Worldwide is formed with BBC Worldwide
2007DHX Media buys Studio B Productions and Wild Brain becomes Wildbrain Entertainment
2008Cookie Jar Group absorbs DIC and House of Cool absorbs Red Rover Studios
2010DHX Media buys Wildbrain Entertainment‚ and Peanuts Worldwide is founded
2011Decode Entertainment and Red Rover Studios closes
2012DHX Media buys Cookie Jar Group
2013DHX Media buys Ragdoll Worldwide
2014DHX Media buys Epitome Pictures, Nerd Corps, and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment's family content library; Cookie Jar Group is absorbed
2016The WildBrain multi-channel network launches and Studio B and Nerd Corps merge as DHX Studios
2017Wildbrain Entertainment closes; DHX Media buys Peanuts Worldwide and Strawberry Shortcake
2018Halifax Film becomes Island of Misfits
2019DHX Media rebrands as WildBrain, Epitome Pictures closes, and the WildBrain MCN becomes WildBrain Spark
2020CPLG becomes WildBrain CPLG
2021Echo Bridge Home Entertainment closes
2023WildBrain acquires House of Cool

DIC Entertainment Corporation (/ˈdk/; also known as DIC Audiovisuel, DIC Enterprises, DIC Animation City, DIC Entertainment, L.P., and DIC Productions, sometimes stylized as DiC), branded as the Incredible World of DIC, was an international film and television production company that was mostly associated as an animation studio. As a now former division of The Walt Disney Company, DIC produced live-action feature films and licensed numerous anime series.

On June 20, 2008, DIC was acquired by and later folded into Cookie Jar Group. As of 2023, most of the DIC library is currently owned by WildBrain (formerly DHX Media) after the company acquired Cookie Jar on October 22, 2012.

History

1971–1982: DIC Audiovisuel

Diffusion, Information Communications (DIC) was founded in France in 1971 by Jean Chalopin as part of Radio Television Luxembourg (RTL Group), a well-established media company. DIC primarily focused on producing television content.[6][7]

In 1981, DIC formed a partnership with Tokyo Movie Shinsha, a Japanese animation studio. As part of this collaboration, DIC assisted in animating several TMS programs, including the popular series Ulysses 31. Additionally, DIC created an unaired pilot called Lupin VIII during this period.

This partnership between DIC and TMS continued until 1996, contributing to the production of numerous animated television shows and pilots.

1982–1986: U.S.

DIC Audiovisuel's U.S. division, DIC Enterprises, was established in April 1982 in Burbank, California by Andy Heyward, a former writer at Hanna-Barbera.[7] This division was created to adapt DIC productions into English for American audiences. DIC Enterprises focused on producing animated television content for both network broadcast and syndication.[6] To reduce costs, DIC outsourced non-creative tasks overseas and employed staff on a per-program basis. Despite its success, some industry insiders referred to DIC as "Do It Cheap."[6]

Under the direction of Bruno Bianchi and Bernard Deyriès, DIC became known for its effective yet cost-conscious approach to animation production.[6] Shortly after its formation, DIC introduced Inspector Gadget, which became one of its most successful productions.[7] DIC also collaborated with toy and greeting card companies to develop character-based product lines that could be adapted into animated series, providing built-in advertisers and financial backers. With hits like Inspector Gadget, The Littles, and Heathcliff, DIC became profitable.[8]

In 1983, DIC established its own animation facility in Japan, known as K.K. DIC Asia, to handle animation production for its shows independently. Despite facing a unionization effort in 1984, DIC remained the only non-union animation firm. Over time, DIC expanded its operations through syndication deals with companies like LBS Communications, Columbia Pictures Television, and Access Syndication. Additionally, DIC secured home video rights for its shows through agreements with Karl-Lorimar Home Video, CBS/Fox Video in the US, and The Video Collection in Great Britain.[2][6][9][10] and Access Syndication.[11][12][13]

1987–1993: Move to North America

Between late 1986 and 1987, Heyward, in collaboration with investors Bear Stearns & Co. and Prudential Insurance Co., acquired Chalopin and Radio Television Luxembourg's 52 per cent stake in DIC, resulting in the transformation of DIC into DIC Animation City, Inc.[2][14] This acquisition, amounting to $70 million in a leveraged buyout, relocated the company's headquarters to the United States.[2][8] Following the transaction, key personnel such as Chalopin, Bianchi, Deyriès, and producer Tetsuo Katayama departed DIC, making way for Robby London and Michael Maliani to assume pivotal roles within the organization.[2] Additionally, Chalopin retained control of DIC's original offices in France and its Japanese animation facility, establishing the entity Créativité et Développement (C&D) in 1987 to continue producing animated content. Meanwhile, the Japanese studio was renamed K.K. C&D Asia, operating until 1996.[15][16]

Subsequent to the buyout, DIC encountered significant financial indebtedness, partly stemming from their competitive strategy of underbidding on projects to outmaneuver rival animation firms, coupled with an overestimation of the market demand for children's television shows. Consequently, DIC's debt escalated, prompting the sale of foreign rights to their library to Saban Productions in 1987, which were later transferred to Chalopin's C&D.[17] This transaction strained the relationship between DIC and Saban, leading to legal disputes culminating in a settlement in 1991. Despite these challenges, DIC expanded its collaborations, partnering with NBC and Coca-Cola Telecommunications to produce and distribute television programs.[18] DIC also ventured into toy manufacturing with the introduction of the Old MacDonald talking toyline.

Amidst legal battles and strategic maneuvers, DIC continued to navigate the evolving landscape of the animation industry. Legal disputes with Family Home Entertainment and LBS/Lorimar Home Video were resolved, paving the way for DIC to forge partnerships with Golden Book Video and pursue distribution agreements with Bohbot Communications.[19] Furthermore, DIC diversified its international collaborations, teaming up with Reteitalia, Reteitalia, S.p.A. and Telecinco, among others, to co-produce animated content. By the early 1990s, DIC expanded its operations to include subsidiaries such as Rainforest Entertainment and embarked on educational initiatives.[20]

DIC's growth trajectory was marked by a landmark licensing agreement with Buena Vista Home Video in 1993, facilitating the distribution of over 1,000 half-hours of animated content and the establishment of a dedicated home video label.[21] This deal bolstered DIC's presence in the home entertainment market, heralding a new phase of expansion and consolidation within the animation industry.[22][23][24] DIC subsequently signed a deal with Golden Book Video to market titles under the DIC Video brand.[25][26][27][28][29][30]

1993–2000: Limited partnerships

During the early 1990s, DIC attracted attention within the industry. The company engaged in discussions regarding a potential merger and buyout with PolyGram and Capital Cities/ABC. However, no agreements materialized with either entity.[31]

On July 26, 1993, DIC Animation City announced the establishment of a limited partnership with Capital Cities/ABC Video Enterprises, Inc., forming a joint venture named DIC Entertainment, L.P.[32] This venture aimed to oversee DIC's production library and supply content for international distribution through CAVE. DIC Animation City held 95% of the shares, while CAVE held the remaining 5%. At the end of the year, the two companies formed another Delaware limited partnership called DIC Productions, L.P., with Capital Cities/ABC holding a 95% majority stake and Heyward retaining the remaining 5%. Both limited partnerships became the successor to the former parent company DIC Animation City,[33] coinciding with the relocation of DIC's headquarters to a larger facility in Burbank, California.[34]

DIC continued its expansion and diversification efforts throughout the early 1990s. In November 1993, it established DIC Interactive, a multimedia unit.[35] Subsequently, the company ventured into live-action television production in 1994. In response to the success of Saban's Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, DIC collaborated with Tsuburaya Productions to adapt the Japanese series Gridman the Hyper Agent into Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad. DIC also initiated partnerships in China and engaged in syndication agreements with SeaGull Entertainment.[36][37][38][39]

In July 1995, The Walt Disney Company announced its intention to acquire Capital Cities/ABC, including all of its assets, including DIC. By October 1995, DIC announced plans to establish an animation studio in France in partnership with Hamster Productions. Following the completion of the merger between Capital Cities/ABC and Disney in January 1996, DIC became a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Subsequently, DIC collaborated closely with Disney, launching DIC Films and extending its first-look deal with Walt Disney Pictures in 1996.[40][41][42][43][44]

In March 1997, DIC's French animation studio commenced operations as Les Studios Tex S.A.R.L. DIC continued its expansion into various markets and mediums, extending its first-look deal with Walt Disney Pictures in March 1998 and announcing the launch of its direct-to-video division in April 1998. Additionally, DIC secured a programming agreement with Pax TV during this period.[45][46][47][48]

2000–2004: Return to independence

In September 2000, Andy Heyward, backed by investment firms Bain Capital and Chase Capital Partners, began to purchase DIC from The Walt Disney Company.[49] Disney agreed to sell back the company and the deal was closed on November 25,[15][50] 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 2001, DIC announced their return to the home video market, forming a new division titled DIC Home Entertainment; they intended to begin releasing products starting that May.[51] This was delayed due to DIC's issues in finding a distribution partner, which eventually happened in July when DIC signed a deal with Lions Gate Home Entertainment for North American distribution of DIC Home Entertainment products.[52] In June, DIC announced a planned purchase of Golden Books Family Entertainment for $170 million, but they eventually backed out of the deal due to the high costs of the purchase; the company was instead co-purchased by Random House for the book rights and Classic Media for the entertainment rights.[53]

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. In July, DIC purchased the Mommy & Me preschool label.[54]

In January 2003, DIC announced three syndicated children's programming E/I blocks called DIC Kids Network.[55][56] 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.[57] 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 (this show never made it to air).[58]

2004–2008: Going public and final years

In 2004, Heyward acquired Bain Capital's share in DIC Entertainment and subsequently oversaw the company's public offering on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market in 2005, trading under the symbol DEKEq.L.[59] In March 2006, DIC regained international rights to 20 of its shows from The Walt Disney Company and Jetix Europe, previously owned by Disney since their acquisition of Saban Entertainment in 2001. The same month, DIC acquired the Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) and welcomed Jeffrey Edell as president and COO. [60][61][62]

DIC, AOL's KOL, and CBS Corporation joined forces to introduce a new three-hour programming block for Saturday mornings on CBS called KOL Secret Slumber Party on September 15, 2006. A year later, on September 15, 2007, DIC, CBS, and American Greetings launched another programming block named KEWLopolis.[63][64]

In April 2007, DIC Entertainment, Nelvana, and NBC Universal Global Networks announced the establishment of KidsCo, an international children's entertainment network. In October of the same year, DIC filed a lawsuit against the Dam company, alleging fraud and negligent misrepresentation regarding Dam's troll doll and DIC's Trollz television series, which was created under a license from Dam. Dam counter-sued DIC, accusing the company of misrepresenting its financial status and harming the troll doll's image and reputation.[65][66][67]

2008–2012: Cookie Jar Group and DHX Media

In June 2008, DIC Entertainment and Canadian media company Cookie Jar Group announced a merger valued at $87.6 million. President Jeffrey Edell played a key role in finalizing the deal, which was completed on July 23 of the same year. Following the merger, DIC became a subsidiary of Cookie Jar, and the company was subsequently folded into Cookie Jar's operations. DIC Entertainment Corporation was rebranded as Cookie Jar Entertainment (USA) Inc. In 2012, Cookie Jar was acquired by DHX Media, later rebranded as DHX Media.[68][69][70] on October 22, 2012.[71]

The DIC Kids Network was renamed Cookie Jar Kids Network in 2009 and ceased operations in 2011. Cookie Jar also produced the final season of Sushi Pack, one of DIC's last shows, which aired until 2009. KEWLopolis on CBS was renamed Cookie Jar TV in 2009 and closed down in 2013, replaced by CBS Dream Team. Cookie Jar Toons, a block on This TV featuring shows from Cookie Jar and DIC, ran from 2008 to 2013. In 2014, Cookie Jar ceased operations.

In 2009, Andy Heyward founded A Squared Entertainment (A²) with his wife, Amy, focusing on brand management and licensing. A Squared merged with Genius Brands in 2013, forming Genius Brands International, with Heyward as CEO.[72][73]

DHX Media (now WildBrain) produced reboots of DIC properties, including Inspector Gadget and Carmen Sandiego (2019) for Netflix, as well as Sonic Prime, a new Sonic the Hedgehog series for the same network.

DIC has been parodied multiple times, notably in the Adult Swim series Robot Chicken, including a sketch mocking the company by having them make a Space Jam-esque film starring Tiger Woods, who himself criticized the company's perceived low-quality animation in the sketch. Another parody depicted DIC as "GiK Entertainment" in the Netflix show Saturday Morning All Star Hits!

Programming blocks

DIC operated many programming blocks for various television stations across the United States.

Kideo TV

Main article: Kideo TV

Kideo TV was an anthology series that was produced as a joint-venture between DIC Enterprises and their US syndicator LBS Communications, with Mattel handling sponsorships.[6] The block aired on syndicated television stations, with Metromedia stations agreeing to carry the block by January 1986.,[9] and launched in April 1986.[6][9]

Kideo TV aired for 90 minutes and consisted of live-action material with three cartoons from DIC's library used as framing material. Rainbow Brite, Popples and Ulysses 31 first aired on the block, while The Get Along Gang and Lady Lovely Locks were added later on.[6]

The "Kideo" brand was also used by LBS as a joint-venture home video line which released various DIC cartoons on VHS.

Weekend Funday

Weekend Funday was a 90-minute weekend strand produced by DIC that was syndicated through Coca-Cola Telecommunications during the Fall of 1987. Weekend Funday normally ran on Sundays under the name of Funday Sunday. However, it would also run on Saturdays as Funtastic Saturday, if it wanted to go head-to-head with the other kidvid blocks.[74]

It consisted of various half-hour cartoons from the DIC lineup, including Sylvanian Families and Starcom: The U.S. Space Force.

Funtown

Funtown was a daily children's programming block on the CBN Family Channel that launched on September 11, 1989. It ran for 26 hours a week, broadcasting from 7:00am–9:00am on weekdays, and 8:00am–11:00am and 4:00pm–6:00pm on weekends. DIC handled the advertising sales of the block, while the CBN Family Channel handled the distribution and marketing.

The lineup 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 also planned to produce four specials each quarter with the launching of Funtown, combined with the others, mostly holiday specials, for the fourth quarter of 1989. However, nothing came out of these initial plans.[26]

Dragon Club

Dragon Club (Chinese: 小神龙俱乐部 (Little Dragon Club)) was a daily television strand operated and distributed through Capital Cities/ABC through various syndicated television stations in China. It launched on September 19, 1994, and broadcast various DIC and ABC programs in addition to third-party, live-action and local offerings.[38]

After the Disney purchase of Capital Cities/ABC, the strand transitioned to airing Disney-produced content and continued to broadcast until the start of 2019.

Panda Club

Panda Club (Chinese: 熊猫俱乐部) was the short-lived sister strand of Dragon Club that launched on October 2, 1994, and broadcast on a smaller selection of stations. It's programming was similar to that of Dragon Club, and broadcast until 1999.

Freddy's Firehouse

Freddy's Firehouse (FFH) was a planned children's educational programming block that would broadcast various programs from DIC Entertainment's library, initially announced in May 1998. In the United States, it was planned to air on Pax TV after DIC signed a deal with the broadcaster to become the exclusive supplier of animated programming on the network. The plan was for the block to run on weekends, running for three hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday. Buena Vista International Television handled syndication sales, and would also allow for the strand to be sold to other outlets internationally.[47][75]

However, the block was rejected in favor of Pax producing the children's block in-house, with "Cloud 9" (later renamed "Pax Kids") launching with Pax TV on August 31, 1998 and broadcasting until the end of the contract with DIC in 2000.[76]

National and syndicated broadcast blocks

Productions

Main article: List of DIC programs

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