According to multiple news outlets, including the Financial Times, Mattel is in talks with Apax Partners to buy Hit Entertainment for £500 million. Two anonymous sources told the Financial Times that Mattel is in the final stages of negotiations to purchase the company that Apax bought in 2005 for £489 million. The sale of Hit will not include the group’s stake in children’s channel Sprout, but will include Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam, and Pingu.
Thomas the Tank Engine will star in a live-action fantasy film adaptation of the popular children’s television series. Academy Award-nominated director Shane Acker (9), has signed on to lead a creative team consisting of Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop (Avatar, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Mattel’s entertainment properties design team. The goal of the new film is to make the Thomas characters and storyline more appealing to the entire family.
Hit Entertainment, which owns the Thomas franchise, has also named Chris Viscardi and Will McRobb (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and Josh Klausner (Shrek the Third, Date Night) as the writers for the film. Julia Pistor (Charlotte’s Web, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events) will serve as the producer.