DreamWorks Animation buys “Casper,” “Lassie” parent Classic Media

DreamWorks Animation, the Glendale-based studio behind the “Shrek” and “Madagascar” movies, is buying Classic Media, a company that owns the rights to “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” “Lassie,” “The Lone Ranger” and other iconic entertainment characters, for $155 million.

DreamWorks Animation announced the all-cash deal early Monday morning.

The deal marks the first acquisition for the studio since it went public in 2004.

“Classic Media brings a large and diverse collection of characters and branded assets that is extremely complementary to DreamWorks Animation’s franchise business, and we plan to leverage it across our motion picture, television, home entertainment, consumer products, digital theme park and live entertainment channels,’' DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg in a statement.

New York City-based Classic Media licenses many of its characters to studios, including the Walt Disney Co., which is making “The Lone Ranger,” a big-budget live-action movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer that will be released next year. DreamWorks also is making a movie based on the animated characters “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” due out Christmas 2013. Classic Media manages the characters in a joint venture with Jay Ward Productions.

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-- Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times