Okin named VP of family entertainment

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is absorbing the Sony Wonder label from its sister music unit as part of its push for family fare.

Steve Okin, formerly Sony Wonder VP of development at Sony BMG Music Entertainment, has been named VP of family entertainment for the division. He will oversee development and acquisitions of non-feature family programming.

Olga Economou shifts from Sony BMG to executive director of Sony Wonder sales under the realignment.

Sony’s homevid division will gain properties such as “Holly Hobby,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon” and “The Berenstain Bears” with the shift. And Sony will begin releasing kidvids such as “Dragon Tales,” animated “Stuart Little” and “It’s a Big, Big World” under the Sony Wonder label.

Prior to the change, Sony BMG had shed many of its homevid properties, prompting rumors the label would shutter. Over the last several months, The Weinstein Co.’s Genius Products snapped up DVD distribution rights to “Sesame Street,” “VeggieTales” and World Wrestling Entertainment. In March, Universal Music Group Distribution’s Vivendi Visual Entertainment landed DVD rights to nostalgia specialist Shout! Factory from Sony Wonder.

But SPHE believes there is value in its new label.

“We believe that there still is brand recognition in the marketplace,” Sony homevid prexy David Bishop said. “Those titles didn’t come over with Sony Wonder. But this is an opportunity to build a new Sony Wonder with fresher properties that will eventually carve out a significant market share.”

Nearly all the major studios have dedicated family units, including Lionsgate and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Buena Vista Home Entertainment largely invented the genre with its slew of theatrical animated sequels.

Earlier this year, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment secured distribution rights to Hit Entertainment, which houses “Thomas, the Tank Engine” and “Barney,” among other brands.

“Sony Pictures has always been in the kids’ business to some degree, but it has never had a dedicated label like some of the other studios have,” Bishop said.

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