Fox ices 'Shortcake' agreement


Upping its commitment to the lucrative children's nontheatrical video category, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has cut a five-year deal with DIC Entertainment to expand its distribution of "Strawberry Shortcake" videos and also distribute other content from DIC's library of children's programming.

Fox has been distributing 45-minute "Shortcake" videos since 2003 but under the new deal will distribute additional animated direct-to-video titles, a new CGI-animated movie and a live-action series. Four new DVD titles are expected in 2007.

Additionally, Fox will release videos based on such other DIC properties as the Care Bears, Madeline, Inspector Gadget and Dennis the Menace.

In the past three years, Fox has sold more than 9 million "Shortcake" DVDs and videocassettes in the United States. Since being introduced in 1980 by American Greetings Corp., Strawberry Shortcake has become a major licensed product, with more than 400 licensees worldwide. From 2003-05, Strawberry Shortcake licensed merchandise generated $1.5 billion in worldwide retail sales.

Fox this year has released two "Shortcake" DVDs, "World of Friends" in February and "Berry Fairy Tales" in August. A third title, "Cooking Up Fun," is due Nov. 14.

"We know our little girl is in good hands," said Jeffrey Conrad, senior vp creative at American Greetings Properties.