He-Man hikes shares in Entertainment Rights

Cartoon strongman He-Man beefed up shares in Entertainment Rights today after the firm struck a deal to launch DVDs featuring the character in North America.

Cartoon strongman He-Man beefed up shares in Entertainment Rights today after the firm struck a deal to launch DVDs featuring the character in North America.

Shares in the UK media group lifted 12% following the agreement with distributor BCI Eclipse to target a potential market of 100 million homes.

Entertainment, which also has Basil Brush and Postman Pat in its portfolio, picked up the rights to He-Man: Masters of the Universe following a deal in March to buy the Filmation library of cartoons from Hallmark.

The deal gave Entertainment control of She-Ra, Ghostbusters, The Lone Ranger and other characters it hopes to return to television screens.

In a separate move, Entertainment said it had agreed for Postman Pat to air on the Nickelodeon channel in Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The popular postman is now appearing in 65 countries around the world.

Entertainment added that current trading had been in line with expectations and that it anticipated an “extremely successful” 2005.

Since 1999, when Entertainment owned rights to just 50 hours of programming, the company’s library has grown to more than 1,800 hours of children’s and family characters and brands.

Annual revenues have increased from £1.8m (€2.56m) in 1999 to £29.5m (€41.9m) in 2003, with analysts at Collins Stewart expecting profits for the current financial year of £5.6m (€7.96m), against £1.5m (€2.13m) a year earlier.

Entertainment said He-Man titles previously unavailable to the American public were planned for release in 2005 and will be supported by a major marketing campaign. He-Man’s profile will be further boosted by a film from Mission Impossible 2 director John Woo.

Entertainment’s chief executive Mike Heap said: “Coupled with the continued success of Postman Pat and our growing presence in the US market, 2004 has been a banner year for ER.”

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