July 08, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: DiC ENTERTAINMENT

 


DiC ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION

a.k.a. DiC AUDIOVISUEL, DiC ENTERPRISES, INC., DiC ENTERTAINMENT, DiC ANIMATION CITY, DiC PRODUCTIONS, THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF DiC

(1971-2008) 

 


DiC's Burbank offices and the bank that would eventually take them over. 


Key People: Jean Chalopin (founder), Andy Heyward (American branch founder, producer), Bruno Bianchi (director), Bernard Deyries (director), Tetsuo Katayama (producer), Robby London (producer), Michael Maliani (producer), Jeffrey Edell (President, COO) 


Bruno Bianchi, Andy Heyward and Jean Chalopin.

 

Diffiusion, Information Communications (DiC) was formed in France by Jean Chalopin in 1971 as the production division of Radio Television Luxembourg. In 1982, Andy Heyward partnered with Chalopin to open an American division to translate DiC’s productions into English and produce animated series for both network and syndication markets. Within the industry, “DiC” came to mean “Do it Cheap” as DiC outsourced all its non-creative work overseas, was anti-union, and hired staff on a per-program basis in order to keep their production costs low and underbid the competition for projects. In 1983, Heyward would introduce the company’s most successful creation: Inspector Gadget. That, combined with The Littles for ABC, made the company extremely profitable. DiC would partner with various toy makers and greeting card companies to make characters and product lines that could be turned into shows, such as The Get Along Gang and Care Bears. In 1985, DiC opened their own Japan-based animation facility, and in 1986 launched their own syndicated programming block with LBS Communications and Mattel called Kideo TV. Heyward partnered with investors Bear Stearns & Co. and Prudential Insurance Co. to buy out Chalopin and RTL’s majority ownership in DiC, making the American branch the main base of operations for the company and renamed the parent company DiC Animation City. Chalopin left, along with directors Bernard Deyries and Bruno Bianchi and producer Tetsuo Katayama. They were replaced by Robby London and Michael Maliani. Chalopin would go on to form a new animation studio: Creativity & Development. The buyout left DiC heavily in debt and the foreign rights to their library were sold to Saban Productions founded by long-time DiC composers Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, who in turn sold it to Chalopin’s C&D. This led to a lawsuit that ended in a settlement, and strained DiC’s relationship with Saban. By 1987, DiC expanded into the toy market with the development of the Old MacDonald talking toyline and had shows on all three major networks. By 1989, they were providing 30% of the networks’ Saturday morning schedule and launched the 26-hours-a-week Funtown programming block on CBN Family Channel. The company attempted to merge with Computer Memories Inc., a former computer parts manufacturer-turned-public shell company, but one of their shareholders killed the deal. Their debt, increased competition and rising costs in Japanese animation had DiC move production of Dennis the Menace to a Canadian animation firm for grants and tax breaks from the Canadian government and began moving other work to Korea and Taiwan. In the early 90s, DiC entered into partnerships with Italian studio Reteitalia, S.p.A. and Spanish network Telecinco to co-produce programs with both of them, started their own educational unit, and a multimedia unit called DiC Interactive. In 1993, DiC and Capital Cities/ABC joined to form DiC Entertainment, LP and launched a live-action unit the following year as well as two more programming blocks in China: Dragon Club and Panda Club. In 1995, they partnered with Hamster Productions in France to open animation studio Les Studios Tex. In 1996, they became a subsidiary of Disney when Disney purchased ABC and penned a first-look deal with the company when DiC launched their feature-film unit. Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment distributed all the productions that came out of DiC’s newly-established direct-to-video division, beginning with 1999’s Madeline: Lost in ParisThey also provided another programming block, Freddy’s Firehouse, to Pax TV. In 2000, Heyward secured financing to buy back DiC from Disney. He returned to the home video market the following year with DiC Home Entertainment after eventually securing distribution through Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Over the next several years, DiC made aggressive purchases and partnerships: they bought the Mommy & Me pre-school label, the international rights to their shows still held by Disney, and Copyright Promotions Licensing Group, and teamed-up with Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment, KOL (AOL’s Kids Online), CBS CorporationNelvana, NBC Universal Global Networks, and Dam Company (the maker of the Troll doll, which ended up in a lawsuit over broken agreements). Heyward also managed to purchase Bain Capital’s interest in DiC in order to take the company public in the United Kingdom Alternative Investment Market. In 2008, DiC merged with Cookie Jar Group and became a subsidiary of Cookie Jar Entertainment. Shortly after, DiC was absorbed into the company and ceased to exist. In 2012, Cookie Jar was acquired by DHX Media (now WildBrain) who are the current rights holders to the DiC library. 



Heyward and Chalopin with Inspector Gadget and his voice actor, Don Adams.


 

Saturday Credits: 

Inspector Gadget (1983) 

The Littles 

The Get Along Gang 

Wolf Rock TV 

Kidd Video 

Pole Position 

Heathcliff (1984) 

Care Bears 

Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling 

Kissyfur 

Dennis the Menace (1986) 

The Real Ghostbusters 

ALF: The Animated Series 

Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater 

Little Clowns of Happytown 

The New Archies 

The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil 

ALF Tales 

The Chipmunks 

Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! 

The Karate Kid 

Camp Candy 

Captain N: The Game Master 

The Wizard of Oz (1990) 

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 

New Kids on the Block 

Swamp Thing 

Chip & Pepper’s Cartoon Madness 

Hammerman 

Super Mario World 

Where’s Waldo? 

Wish Kid 

ProStars 

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures 

Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire 

Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa 

All-New Dennis the Menace 

Sonic the Hedgehog (1993) 

Madeline 

Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? 

Bump in the Night 

Ultraforce 

Gadget Boy & Heather 

What-A-Mess 

Gadget Boy’s Adventures in History 

The Wacky World of Tex Avery 

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century 

Archie’s Weird Mysteries 

Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action! 

Alienators: Evolution Continues 

Stargate Infinity 

Gadget & the Gadgetinis 

Sushi Pack 

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