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Mattel, Warner Bros. in Licensing Deal

July 09, 2002|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mattel Inc. is expected to unveil today a major licensing agreement with Warner Bros. to make toys stemming from films and TV shows featuring the studio's Batman, Superman, Justice League, Looney Tunes and Baby Looney Tunes characters.

The four-year deal is considered a coup for Mattel in its competition with rival Hasbro Inc., which had the master toy license for Batman for 13 years. The deal covers all areas except Asia.

Sources say Warner executives were pleased with Mattel's work on toys pegged to the release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and that they believe the El Segundo-based company's Fisher-Price unit is poised to best exploit the "Baby Looney Tunes" animated series scheduled to debut in the fall.

Sources familiar with the deal said the agreement conservatively could be worth at least $200 million for Mattel.

The deal comes at a time when toy makers have been wary of licensed toy deals because of disappointing results for such franchises as "Star Wars."

Mattel executives have said that the company cut its licensed toy lines 25% in the last two years.

Two years ago, Mattel decided not to renew a deal to make toys for Walt Disney Co.'s newer films, prompting the studio to go with Hasbro. Mattel's Fisher-Price, however, still produces toys based on classic Disney characters.

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