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Nickelodeon buys US$60m Turtles

4Kids Entertainment and The Mirage Group have sold the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Viacom-owned kids network Nickelodeon for US$60 million and Nick is developing a new Turtles series that will debut in 2012.

The deal gives Nick global TV, film, merchandising and videogame rights to the property, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. All rights should be transferred to Nick by the end-June , 2010.

Nick said that as well as the new CG-animated series, it will develop a new Turtles feature film with Paramount Pictures, which is also part of the Viacom family. The movie will bow in 2012.

In return for terminating its licensing deal, which ran until 2012, 4Kids receives US$9.75 million from the deal and a chunk of Turtles royalties through to mid-2010. It will also continue to air the TV episodes it coproduced with Mirage on its TheCW4Kids block until the end of the 2009/2010 TV season.

4Kids launched a new 90-minute Turtles show, Turtles Forever, at MIPCOM. Coproduced with Mirage, the show featured the different styles of animation that have been used on the various Turtles TV series. The last of the four Turtles theatrical movie was the Warner Bros. and Weinstein-produced 1996 feature TMNT.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created by Kevin Eastman ad Peter Laird in 1984 and started out life as a comic book series. Laird and Eastman founded Massachusetts-based indie comic book company Mirage Studios in 1983.