Artisan devours VeggieTales pic

'Jonah' to be released nationwide this fall on more than 1,000 screens

HOLLYWOOD — Artisan Home Entertainment enters the theatrical arena with the acquisition of the North American theatrical, home entertainment and television rights to “Jonah — A VeggieTales Movie,” the first feature from the VeggieTales franchise.

The computer-animated “Jonah” is the first in a two-pic theatrical deal between Artisan and Chicago-based VeggieTales creator Big Idea Prods. “Jonah” will be released nationwide this fall on more than 1,000 screens.

“Jonah” will be the first title from Artisan’s new specialty theatrical distribution label, FHE Pictures, which will distribute family films. FHE prexy Glenn Ross said the label will release one or two films a year.

Based on the VeggieTales line of videos and consumer products, “Jonah” is a comic retelling of the biblical tale about Jonah and the whale. As with the VeggieTales videos, the images, writing and music were created at Big Idea under founder Phil Vischer and CGI animation vet Dan Philips.

Good for kids, adults

“We think it’s a perfect meld of humor for children and adults with a good, strong moral message that’s also hilariously funny,” said Ross, who brought the title to Artisan.

“Jonah” was co-written and co-directed by Vischer and VeggieTales co-creator Mike Nawrocki. Ameake Owens produced the film.

FHE has overseen the recent release of Mattel’s “Barbie in the Nutcracker” and Scholastic Entertainment’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog” video series as well as programming from Hallmark Entertainment, Hallmark Hall of Fame and the Discovery Channel.

According to VideoScan, VeggieTales is the No. 1-selling children’s direct-to-video series. The brand, which also produced audio titles and a large line of toys, has been honored with Parenting Magazine’s Video Magic Awards, Parents Choice Awards and Kids First Seals of Approval.

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