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U Cartoon arm moves focus to kidvid titles

Responding to the tremendous growth in the children’s homevideo market, Universal Cartoon Studios has changed its focus from supplying animated programs for television to producing made-for-video projects.

With 10 projects in various stages of development, the studio hopes to tap into the burgeoning kidvid market with a slate of animated programs to be distributed through MCA/Universal Home Video.

Universal Cartoon Studios is a joint venture between Universal Family Entertainment and the homevideo arm.

The first title made strictly for homevideo will be a sequel to the film “The Land Before Time.” A release date has not been firmed.

Universal Family Entertainment president Jeff Segel confirmed the studio’s move into made-for-video fare, citing the feedback from staffers in its homevid subsidiary concerning both Disney’s market share in the arena and the rosy outlook for the kidvid segment. Previous MCA/Universal videos aimed at the children’s market were primarily repackaged TV shows or theatrical releases.

“We’re not quite Disney yet,” Segel said. “Our homevideo division looked at the market and recognized it as an important part of the business. This is something we’re totally committed to.”

Children’s titles already comprise 50% of the sell-through industry, with the introduction of more product expected to drive the figure higher.

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