Lionsgate, LeapFrog ink for kids DVDs

5:00 AM PST 04/01/2008 by Etan Vlessing, AP

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TORONTO -- Canadian producer Lionsgate, on a mission to raise its profile in family oriented home entertainment, said Tuesday it has signed a multiyear agreement with kids educational brand LeapFrog Enterprises to produce and distribute direct-to-DVD feature films.

The deal follows a separate agreement unveiled last week, that will see Lionsgate replace 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment as the DVD distributor of HIT Entertainment product in North America (HR 3/25).

As part of the multiyear deal with LeapFrog, Vancouver-based Lionsgate will retain the worldwide rights to the family-oriented feature films, excluding China.

Lionsgate also acquired the home entertainment rights to LeapFrog's catalog of five titles, which have together sold more than 4 million copies.

Lionsgate will secure the DVD rights once LeapFrog distribution agreements with Warner Home Video and Porchlight Entertainment have expired.

With the LeapFrog and HIT deals, Lionsgate said it expects to get to claim about 15% of the North American family entertainment DVD market. Rivals in the market include Paramount Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video and market leader Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

"Creating new educational DVD's and acquiring the LeapFrog library supports our mission of delivering trusted product built on the twin themes of entertainment and education to families throughout North America," Lionsgate executive vp marketing and family entertainment Anne Parducci said in a statement.

LeapFrog's interactive DVDs, which includes such titles as "The Talking Words Factory" and "The Little Polar Bear," enable kids to communicate with on-screen entertainment.
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