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U enters the Barbie biz

Pact calls for Mattel to continue producing discs inhouse

Barbie’s got a new home at Universal.

The studio is taking over distributing Barbie DVDs from Lionsgate Entertainment, which ended its five-year partnership with Mattel last month.

Glenn Ross, a former Lionsgate exec who heads Universal Studios Family Entertainment Prods., brokered the multiyear pact, which calls for Mattel to continue producing discs inhouse.

U’s first Barbie release will be the straight-to-disc “Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses” this fall. The release will be backed by a full line of toys and products and followed with a new line of DVD preems tied in to the Polly Pocket line of dolls.

Lionsgate sold more than 27 million Barbie DVDs worldwide under its partnership with Mattel. Studio will continue to distribute previous Barbie movies, with “The Barbie Diaries” set to debut May 9.

Both sides cited NBC U’s broad reach, from TV to theme parks, in talking up the new partnership. Because the deal is multiyear and not title by title, as was Mattel’s deal with Lionsgate, execs said they expect to be able to work more closely on campaigns, which will combine toy and DVD advertising.

Mattel will launch a line of toys for “PollyWorld,” the debut Polly Pocket disc due this fall.