Lionsgate gets rights to HIT video


Lionsgate fortified its core home entertainment business Monday by securing distribution rights to HIT Entertainment's portfolio of family product.

Such HIT properties as Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder had been distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Lionsgate will start distributing HIT's slate of home entertainment releases in May. "Thomas and the Great Discovery," the brand's first feature-length direct-to-video movie in three years, will be one of the first titles released, coming out in September.

Lionsgate president Steve Beeks called HIT "one of the most treasured jewels in our family entertainment crown." The addition of the line will make Lionsgate the No. 3 distributor of nontheatrical family home entertainment programming, with a projected market share of 15%, up from its current 9%.

The deal also covers electronic sell-through.

Lionsgate's other family properties include Scholastic's Clifford the Big Red Dog, American Greetings' The Care Bears, MGA's Bratz line and Marvel Animated Features.