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Mattel motoring Hot Wheels to Warner vid

Cross-promo opportunities with Cartoon Network in future

Mattel is steering its next several Hot Wheels animated programs to Warner Home Video.

The toymaker passed up Lions Gate — its partner on the first animated Hot Wheels movie — for a four-title deal with Warners that begins with the March 22 release of “Hot Wheels AcceleRacers: Ignition.” The three other titles in the deal, “The Speed of Silence,” “The Challenge” and “The Ultimate Race,” will also be released this year.

Part of the lure of Warner was the cross-promo opportunities with WHV’s sister Cartoon Network, which introduced “Ignition” in January as an hour-long program on the network.

Warner has slated a yearlong, multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to reach 94 million U.S. households at least three times over.

“Hot Wheels is by far one of the leading young boy brands in the industry, with its more than 35-year history entertaining kids,” said Jeff Brown, Warner senior VP worldwide marketing. “The demand for Hot Wheels programming is clearly evident with the success of the show to date on Cartoon Network.”

Planned AcceleRacer Web-based games and exclusive Internet content also should boost the DVD series’ allure for kids.

“The property will have fresh new content every week with TV specials and Webisodes,” said Steve Ross, Mattel’s senior VP worldwide entertainment business.

Although the shift in gears from Lions Gate to Warner comes as Lions Gate’s family programming head Glen Ross is leaving the company amidst a restructuring of the division, a spokeswoman for Mattel says the relationship with Lions Gate continues with a new Barbie title later this year and could include future Hot Wheels properties. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t do another ‘World Race’ in the future with Lions Gate.”

(Susanne Ault is a reporter for Variety sister publications Video Business and DVD Exclusive.)

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