One of the most internationally recognized syndicated comic strips was born in 1950 from the pen of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. Over time, now-countless readers everywhere came to like the slice-of-life tales of that good old boy who cannot ever seem to kick the football – Charlie Brown – and the hyper-imaginative adventures of his pet beagle Snoopy. “Peanuts” also went on to expand into TV and film media, as well as become a goldmine for licensed merchandising. After Schulz died in 2000, his work’s brand was majority-acquired by Canadian company DHX Media; but now Sony is apparently making its own bid.
According to USA Today, the musical arm Japanese electronics giant Sony is taking up an offer by Halifax-based DHX Media to sell half their stake in Peanuts Worldwide, the holding company that now cares for the trademarks of the great franchise created by Charles M. Schulz. The deal was made known in Monday, May 14, wherein DHX Media signed off on giving part of their 80% majority share in Peanuts Worldwide to Sony Music Entertainment (SME). Thus, the shared ownership comes to 39% for SME and 41 to DHX Media. The remaining 20% remains under the ownership of Schulz’ family.
Just as they originally reassured American fans of Charlie Brown and friends in May of last year, when they made their “Peanuts” majority acquisition, DHX Media once again moves to assuage fears following the strategic agreement they made with Sony Music, which will pay them upwards of $185 million for their new portion of Peanuts Worldwide. DHX spokesperson Shaun Smith says, “The Peanuts characters, and the brand representation that Americans and other fans around the world love, will remain essentially the same. The Snoopy that Americans love is the same Snoopy that the Japanese love, and Canadians, for that matter.”
DHX Media is a production company specializing in children’s entertainment, with an impressive library of such properties as “Strawberry Shortcake”, the first 15 seasons of Cinar/Cookie Jar’s “Arthur”, and popular retro cartoons from DIC Entertainment. The decision by Sony to acquire a stake on “Peanuts” was due to their seeing the property as “world-class” and a means of growing their overall business. Japan is one of the major international markets for “Peanuts” merchandise, ranging from children’s clothing to accessories like decorated chopsticks. Schulz’ original comic strips have also been translated into Japanese in decades past, to extremely positive reader reception.
The acquisition by Sony of shares in Peanuts Worldwide from DHX Media is expected to become finalized by June 30.
Photo courtesy of japantimes.co.jp