|This article is outdated. (November 2013)|
|Fate||Reincorporated as 4Licensing Corporation (OTCQB: FOUR)|
|Founded||1970 (as Leisure Concepts, Inc.)
1992 (began television production)
|Headquarters||New York, NY, USA|
|Key people||Jay Emmett (Chairman)
Bruce R. Foster (CEO and CFO)
|Revenue||US$ 3.86 million (2011)|
|Operating income||-US$3.6 million (2011)|
|Net income||-US$2.7 million (2011)|
|Total assets||US$23.04 million (2011)|
|Total equity||US$6.66 million (2011)|
|Divisions||4Sight Licensing Solutions
LicensingPinwrest Development Group LLC(70%)
4LC Sports & Entertainment, Inc
The 4Licensing Corporation (formerly 4Kids Entertainment) is an American licensing company. The company was previously also a film and television production company that English-dubbed Japanese anime through its subsidiary 4Kids Productions between 1992 and 2012; it specialized in the acquisition, production and licensing of children's entertainment around the United States. The first anime that 4Kids Productions dubbed was the first eight seasons of Pokémon that aired on Kids' WB! in the United States. The company is most well known for its range of television licenses, which has included the multi-billion dollar Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Japanese anime franchises. They also ran two program blocks: Toonzai (originally The CW4Kids) on The CW, and 4Kids TV on Fox, both aimed at children. The 4KidsTV block ended on December 27, 2008; Toonzai/The CW4Kids block ended on August 18, 2012, to be replaced by Saban's Vortexx.
4Licensing Corporation has its world headquarters on Third Avenue in New York City, its former subsidiary, 4Kids Productions, had its headquarters in a separate building in Manhattan. The New York Stock Exchange delisted 4Kids (NYSE: KDE) on June 1, 2010. On April 6, 2011, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following a lawsuit concerning the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. On December 13, 2012, the company announced that it had emerged from bankruptcy.
- 1 History
- 2 Licenses and productions
- 3 Television
- 4 Executive management
- 5 Other notable business proceedings
- 6 Editing and localization of anime
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The company was created by Mike Germakian (one of the creators of ThunderCats) and Stan Weston (the creator of G.I. Joe and Captain Action). Mike Germakian was the secretary of Leisure Concepts, while Stan Weston was the President and later the Chairman of Leisure Concepts from the start until Alfred R. Kahn.
In 1987, LCI signed a licensing deal with Nintendo of America, Inc. to market the software products that went along with its increasingly popular gaming systems. Nintendo had already introduced The Legend of Zelda for its home video game system, a software product that went on to sell more than one million copies during the year.
The company changed its name from Leisure Concepts, Inc to 4Kids Entertainment, Inc on November 17, 1995.
Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit and bankruptcy
On March 29, 2011, TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems (NAS) sued 4Kids Entertainment, alleging that the company entered into illegal agreements with other companies, including Funimation Entertainment and Majesco Entertainment, regarding the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime franchise. TV Tokyo claimed that those agreements allowed 4Kids to collect royalties without paying a portion of those royalties to TV Tokyo, which violates their original agreement. The companies are seeking almost $5 million in "underpayments, wrongful deductions, and unmet obligations." As part of the suit, the companies terminated the Yu-Gi-Oh! license from 4Kids. Neither Funimation nor Majesco are listed as defendants in the case.
4Kids Entertainment informed the licensors on March 27, 2011, that their termination letter was "wrongful and devoid of any factual and legal basis," and that they had not given 4Kids 10 days notice as required. 4Kids further revealed that they had made a good-faith payment of $1 million and agreed to a March 18 meeting in lieu of a lawsuit, which TV Tokyo and NAS nevertheless decided to go ahead with. The company also stated that even if the termination is found to be valid, the company is prepared to do whatever it takes to stay in business. 4Kids filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as of April 6, 2011. 4Kids requested that the court suspend co-licensor Asatsu DK's attempts to exercise control of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise in the United States, particularly in terms of selling the rights to the latest anime series, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, which was due to be pitched at the Licensing International Expo on June 14. However, on June 2, 2011, bankruptcy judge Shelley Chapman issued a court order on TV Tokyo and NAS for an automatic stay on the U.S. Yu-Gi-Oh! license and said that the trial will proceed in two phases. The first phase is whether the contractual termination was valid, and the second is how much money 4Kids would owe the companies. The first phase of the trial began on August 29, 2011.
On October 27, 2011, 4Kids and the executives of former financial company Lehman Brothers reached a deal, after Lehman had improperly invested most of 4Kids funds in auction rate securities. 4Kids received $500,000 from the deal. Chapman later ruled that the Yu-Gi-Oh! license is still in effect due to TV Tokyo, NAS and ADK not terminating the agreement properly. On February 29, 2012, there was an amicable settlement of the lawsuit between 4Kids Entertainment and Asatsu-DK (ADK) and TV Tokyo over the license of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property.
On May 1, 2012, Kidsco Media Ventures LLC, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group, placed a bid to acquire some of 4Kids' assets, including the US rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise and The CW4Kids block, for $10 million. 4K Acquisition Corp, a subsidiary of Konami, then placed a bid to acquire all of 4Kids' assets. On June 5, 2012, 4Kids commenced an auction between Kidsco and 4K Acquisition which was then adjourned so 4Kids, Kidsco, and 4K Acquisition could consider an alternative transaction. On June 15, 2012, 4Kids filed a notice outlining a proposed deal in which its assets would be divided between Kidsco and 4K Acquisition which was finalised on June 26, 2012. The deal saw 4K Acquisition acquire the US rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise and KidsCo acquire 4Kids' other assets including the agreements for Dragon Ball Z, Sonic X, Cubix and The CW Network's Toonzai Saturday morning programming block.
On August 14, 2012, it was announced through a quarterly report that 4Kids Entertainment had discontinued operations of four operating divisions: 4Kids Ad Sales Inc., 4Kids Productions Inc., 4Kids Entertainment Music Inc., and 4Kids Entertainment Home Video, Inc. due to their continued lack of profitability.
On August 31, 2012, Brian Lacey, Executive Vice President of 4Kids Entertainment International (the company's subsidiary based in London), ended his employment. Brian Lacey had been responsible for the broadcast distribution of over 2,000 episodes of television entertainment to over 100 countries worldwide.
On September 13, 2012, it was revealed through a quarterly report that on August 16, 2012, the Board of Directors of 4Kids Entertainment determined to discontinue the operations of its UK subsidiary, 4Kids Entertainment International Ltd., which became effective on September 30, 2012.
On October 3, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. announced that Michael Goldstein had retired from his positions as interim Chairman, as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors, as Chairman of the Company’s Audit Committee and as a member of the Company’s Nominating Committee.
On October 5, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment announced will be submitting its Chapter 11 disclosure statement, the first step to exiting bankruptcy. 4Kids Entertainment plans after reorganization are to continue, strengthen and expand their "legacy licensing business" and expand into sports licensing.
On October 16, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment elected Jay Emmett, age 83, as the company's Chairman and appointed Bruce Foster, age 52, to the Board, to serve until the next annual meeting of the company's stockholders and promoted him from Executive Vice President to interim Chief Executive Officer.
On October 31, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment announced that Samuel R. Newborn resigned from his position as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Company and as a member of the Company's Board of Directors.
On December 5, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment announced that it had ended a dispute (over the so-called Pokémon agreement) with The Pokémon Company International under which TPCi will get a $1 million general unsecured claim against the debtor.
A meeting was scheduled on December 13, 2012, to confirm 4Kids' plan to exit Bankruptcy. The same day, The New York bankruptcy judge sent 4Kids Entertainment Inc. on its way out of Chapter 11 protection Thursday, overruling an objection by the American Kennel Club Inc. over a licensing agreement and approving its reorganization plan, which calls for the full payment of claims.
On December 21, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment was reincorporated as 4Licensing Corporation.
Plan of Reorganization of 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. and its domestic wholly owned subsidiaries, became effective on December 21, 2012, on December 21, 2012, 4Kids changed its state of incorporation from the State of New York to the State of Delaware by the merger of 4Kids with and into 4Licensing Corporation, a newly formed Delaware corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of 4Kids, with 4Licensing as the surviving corporation.
4Licensing Corporation resumed trading on February 27, 2013.
On March 7, 2013 4Licensing Corporation announced that it has formed a new joint venture, Pinwrest Development Group, LLC, to develop products utilizing a new patented technology for impact protection. The venture is jointly owned by 4Licensing Corporation and other individuals, with 4LC owning a 70 percent interest in Pinwrest.
On April 4, 2013, 4Licensing Corporation announced the launch of 4LC Sports & Entertainment, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of 4Licensing Corporation specializing in the end-to-end development of licensed products and programs for the sports and entertainment industries.4LC Sports & Entertainment is headed by Mark Panko.
Licenses and productions
4Kids Entertainment licenses a wide variety of media products, ranging from video games and television programs to toy lines featuring the Royal Air Force. 4Kids focuses on licensing content for the children and pre-teen market, including content for both boys and girls. Many of its licenses come from dubs of Japanese anime, including Fighting Foodons, and Shaman King, while others are Western animations or properties like Chaotic or Back to the Future: The Animated Series.
Most programs are either licensed out to local stations, or broadcast on their dedicated programming block 4Kids TV. Typically, 4Kids will retain several properties on hiatus (such as Yu-Gi-Oh! GX), or in production to allow for turnover of their existing products. 4Kids also licenses, and merchandises, a number of non-animation based products, such as calendars like The Dog, and toys like Cabbage Patch Kids.
In late January 2002, 4Kids Entertainment signed a four-year, US$100 million deal with the Fox Broadcasting Company to program its Saturday morning lineup. It premiered September 14, 2002, as "FoxBox" after Fox Kids was dissolved following the purchase of Fox Family Worldwide by The Walt Disney Company. FoxBox rebranded to "4Kids TV" in January 2005. 4Kids Entertainment is wholly responsible for the content of the block and collects all advertising revenues from it. 4Kids Entertainment announced that it would exit its contract with Fox and terminate its Fox programming block by the end of 2008. The final broadcast of 4Kids TV on Fox was on December 27, 2008.
On October 2, 2007, Warner Bros. and CBS announced that the Kids' WB programming block on their co-owned network, The CW, would be ending in 2008, and no longer be marketed and produced in-house, due to factors including building children's advertising and marketing restrictions, and cable competition. Rights for the five-hour Saturday morning block were bought by 4Kids, and they began to program the time with their own programming (mixed in with three former Kids' WB originals) in September 2008. Because of this additional deal, 4Kids provided programming for both The CW and Fox in the 2008–09 season giving 4Kids nine hours of combined children's programming on two broadcast networks, as 4KidsTV ran until December 27, 2008. The new block, The CW4Kids, started May 24, 2008. The CW4Kids was renamed to Toonzai starting on August 14, 2010, featuring Magical Do-Re-Mi!, Cubix: Robots for Everyone, Dinosaur King, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Sonic X and Dragon Ball Z Kai. Even though 4Kids TV was discontinued as it's now online only, this programming block continued to use the CW4Kids name, to reflect to the network it airs on. 4Kids also indicated that it will retain Yu-Gi-Oh! and Sonic X in its lineup. In addition to that, Toonzai also aired Dragon Ball Z Kai. Dragon Ball Z Kai also airs on Nicktoons Network in the US. Toonzai was The CW4Kids's nickname. The Toonzai block ended on August 18, 2012.
Many of the licenses distributed by 4Kids Entertainment, and presented on 4Kids TV were managed by 4Kids Productions, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of 4Kids Entertainment. First launched in 1992, and shut down in 2012, 4Kids Productions had dealt primarily with television, film, home video, and music licenses, and managed the programming for 4Kids TV.
This is a list of Chief Executive Officers that ran 4Kids Entertainment.
Chief Executive Officers
- June 1990–December 1990: Robert Kotick
- March 1991–January 11, 2011: Alfred R. Kahn
- January 11, 2011 – September 30, 2012: Michael Goldstein
- October 16, 2012–present: Bruce R. Foster
Other notable business proceedings
On April 5, 2000, 4Kids and Mattel signed a licensing agreement to create Hot Wheels die-cast cars and racing sets featuring the PACE Motor Sports line of monster trucks. The license included rights to the monster truck Grave Digger, and a new line of World Championship Wrestling vehicles designed after their star wrestlers such as Goldberg Sting and Bret Hart. The PACE Motor Sports and World Championship Wrestling line of Hot Wheels vehicles have been available nationally at mass-market retailers beginning in the summer of that year.
On January 17, 2006, 4Kids and Microsoft signed a deal to license children's video games exclusively for the Xbox 360 gaming system, in an effort to put more child-oriented games on the system, whose gaming library is currently dominated by games targeted toward the 13-and-up market. One of the first titles announced was Viva Piñata which would be developed by Rare Ltd.
On April 18, 2006, 4Kids launched a new subsidiary entitled 4Sight Licensing Solutions Inc., which licenses and market brands aimed at adults, teenagers and pre-teens. "We have built an impressive roster of captivating and successful children's entertainment properties," said Alfred Kahn. "Given the increased number of brands that we are representing that focus on an older audience, we felt it would be beneficial to organize a new subsidiary primarily devoted to the marketing and licensing of these brands. We believe that we can successfully utilize our marketing and licensing expertise to build brand value for properties targeting an older consumer that are not necessarily media or character driven."
On December 11, 2006, 4Kids Entertainment announced the formation of two subsidiaries, TC Digital Games, LLC, a trading card company, and TC Websites, LLC, an online multi-platform game company.“The formation of TC Digital Games and TC Websites represent a significant enhancement of our business strategy,” said Alfred R. Kahn, Chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment.TC Digital Games LLC and TC Websites, LLC were shut down in 2010,due to continued lack of profitability.
Editing and localization of anime
The management of 4Kids Entertainment has stated that it seeks to "localize anime so children in English-speaking countries will understand it...", judging that localization is necessary in order for these titles to be profitable. For most titles, the editing 4Kids performs falls into a few broad categories – 4Kids may seek to "Americanize" a program by changing character names, dialog, music, food, or stereotypes which would be unfamiliar or even offensive to an American audience, as in the Pokémon series, where rice balls are changed into American food such as jelly doughnuts or submarine sandwiches. The company also tends to replace materially suggestive objects such as cigarettes with lollipops, guns with water guns, and may edit religious symbols such as crosses. Content may otherwise be deemed too violent or suggestive for American children. In an interview with Al Kahn, former CEO of 4Kids, when asked to respond to critics of how they edit anime, his reply was, "..if [anime fans] want this programming to come to the United States, then they're going to have to accept the fact that it's going to be available in two styles." While this was true for a short while, as the first several episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! were released on home video in an uncut format, the company has generally only released edited versions of its programs.
A March 2006 study by the Parents Television Council on violence in children's television programs claimed that the 4Kids dub of Shaman King was still too violent for children. L. Brent Bozell also pointed out the 4Kids-dubbed Shaman King in one of his weekly column as an example of children's media he perceived as having undue "cultural landmines".
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