DIC Entertainment was an animation studio based in Burbank, California that focused on the production of animated material. It was founded by Jean Chapolin in 1971.
Connection with Disney
DIC‘s first business with Disney was then their parent company DIC Animation City, Inc. signed an North American home video deal with Buena Vista Home Video on July 12, 1993, allowing the creation of a video label which would eventually be called DIC Toon-Time Video. The Home Video deal was not completely exclusive, as DIC continued on releasing some of their shows through other Home Video distributors as well.
On July 26, 1993, DIC Animation City formed a Delaware limited partnership with Capital Cities/ABC Video Enterprises, Inc. called DIC Entertainment, L.P. in order to control DIC's production library and provide material for Capital Cities/ABC to distribute in the international market. DIC's founder Andy Heyward retained a small ownership stake in the limited partnership. DIC Animation City was supposed to remain as an independent company but was subsequently folded a year later, making the limited partnership fully owned by Capital Cities/ABC.
In 1994, DIC and Capital Cities/ABC later formed another Delaware limited partnership called DIC Productions, L.P., which owned the production/distribution venture of animated and live-action programming for the children's television and video markets. Capital Cities/ABC owned a 95% majority stake in the venture, while Heyward owned the remaining 5%.
DIC were allowed to continue producing programmes independently as well as allowing to market their own programmes on their own, alongside distribution in North America. Internationally in all other regions, ABC Distribution Company handled the international distribution of DIC's programmes then-on.
In August 1995, The Walt Disney Company announced they would acquire Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion. The purchase was closed in January 1996 and so DIC’s ownership transitioned the The Walt Disney Company. As with the Capital Cities/ABC ownership, DIC continued their operations independently as a separate subsidiary through Disney. DIC retained distribution and marketing to their own franchises in North America, while internationally, with ABC Distribution Company being folded into Buena Vista International Television, the latter became DIC Entertainment’s new international distributor.
DIC launched a film division titled DIC Films in 1996, which would produce live action films. The division signed a first-look deal with Walt Disney Pictures in the same year and through this deal, two films were put into development - an feature film called Meet the Deedles and a live action adaptation of Inspector Gadget. In 1998, the deal extended for another two years, with planned films based on the animated series Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, anime series Sailor Moon and two original projects - Beardstown Ladies and a Disney Channel Original Movie called Genius in the works. Out of all the films planned, only Genius was completed and aired.
When Toon Disney launched in 1998, various DIC Entertainment shows aired on the channel. Outside the United States, DIC shows would also air on international Disney networks and blocks due to BVIT's worldwide distribution rights to DIC's post-1990 catalog.
On September 25, 2000, it was announced that Andy Heyward announced he would fully re-purchase DIC from Disney through Bain Capital Partners. November 18, 2000, Disney accepted the sale and was closed on November 25, 2000, officially making DIC re-independent and reinstating the international distribution rights to their catalogue following the reopening of DIC's international sales offices. DIC however, continued with an association with Disney, which included:
- Sabrina: The Animated Series remaining part of the Disney's One Saturday Morning (ABC) and Disney's One Too (UPN) blocks (and later Disney Channel and Toon Disney).
- The third season of The New Adventures of Madeline airing on Disney Channel on the Playhouse Disney block, as well as the series remaining part of the Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney airtimes.
- Work on a sequel to Inspector Gadget.
- DIC programs remaining as part of a portion of Toon Disney's schedule.
- Two direct-to-video films distributed through Buena Vista Home Entertainment (This would never came to fruition in the end).
DIC Toon-Time Video
DIC Toon-Time Video was a video label distributed in the United States by Buena Vista Home Video, that focused on distributing most of DIC's shows onto VHS. The label was created in 1994, replacing the standard DIC branding on Buena Vista-distributed DIC releases. The partnership was semi-exclusive, as some DIC shows were also released through other distributors, even during Disney's ownership of the company. The label would be retired in 2000, with the last release through the label being the Sailor Moon: The Doom Tree Series VHS boxset.
Outside North America, Buena Vista Home Video would occasionally release some of DIC's programs onto VHS in some countries like Latin America and Australia, but distribution overseas was mostly done through other home video distributors.
In 2001, The Walt Disney Company purchased Fox Family Worldwide, who owned Saban Entertainment, who themselves owned the international distribution rights to DIC’s pre-1990 catalogue.
In October 2002, DIC announced that the international broadcast rights to their "Movie Toons" (which at the time, were recently airing on Nickelodeon in the United States) library was acquired by Walt Disney Television International in France, Germany (Alongside Super RTL), Italy, Southeast Asia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, the Middle East and Scandinavia. For which in these countries, they would air on a respective Disney Channel, Toon Disney or Playhouse Disney network.
In January 2004, DIC confirmed that Walt Disney Television International had acquired their Totally Sabrina package (consisting of Sabrina: The Animated Series and new series Sabrina's Secret Life) in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Asia, Taiwan, Australia, France, Latin America including Brazil, the Middle East and Spain. In Germany, both Disney Channel and Super RTL acquired the package.
In 2004, Heyward purchased Bain Capital's stake in DIC Entertainment and took the company public in the United Kingdom stock market the following year.
In 2006, DIC purchased back the international distribution rights to their pre-1990 catalogue from Disney and Jetix Europe. In the same year, Disney's contract to air Sabrina, The Animated Series, Sabrina's Secret Life and Madeline in the United States expired and all the mentioned shows left Disney Channel and Toon Disney.
In July 2008, Cookie Jar Entertainment purchased and folded DIC Entertainment. As of 2020, most of DIC's former assets and library are owned by Canada-based WildBrain (formerly known as DHX Media), who acquired Cookie Jar in October 2012. Some exceptions include the live action films they produced with Disney, which the latter retains full ownership to.
Shows/movies produced during Disney ownership
Note: With the exception of the live action movies, none of these programs have any connection to Disney, even during the era when the company owned DIC. This is because DIC traded independently from Disney's other subsidiaries.
- The Legend of Sarmoti: Siegfried & Roy (1996)
- Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (Season 4, 1996)
- Inspector Gadget's Field Trip (1996-1998)
- Hurricanes (Season 4 and 5, 1996-1997)
- Sonic Christmas Blast (TV Special, 1996)
- Gadget Boy's Adventures in History (1997)
- Sailor Moon R (1997, eps. 66-82 [73-89 unedited])
- Extreme Dinosaurs (1997, produced for Bohbot Entertainment)
- Mummies Alive! (1997)
- The Wacky World of Tex Avery (1997)
- A Christmas Carol (DTV film, 1997)
- Meet the Deedles (Live-action film, 1998)
- Pocket Dragon Adventures (1998, produced for BKN International)
- Sonic Underground (1999)
- Our Friend, Martin (DTV film, 1999)
- Inspector Gadget (Live-action film, 1999)
- Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999)
- Genius (Live-action film, 1999)
- Madeline: Lost in Paris (DTV film, 1999)
- Sabrina, The Animated Series (1999)
- Archie's Weird Mysteries (1999)
- Inspector Gadget: Gadget's Greatest Gadgets (DTV compilation, 2000)
- Monster Mash (DTV film, 2000)
- The New Adventures of Madeline (Season 3, 2000)