DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg announced this week at the 2014 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, that DreamWorks had acquired the rights to the classic animated character Felix the Cat for an undisclosed amount. DreamWorks will not be creating new Felix the Cat animated shorts or features, however; instead, they will be using Felix’s famous face as part of a new fashion line.
Katzenberg said in his Licensing Expo speech:
“Felix really goes beyond evergreen status and rises to something even more uncommon, as he is a true icon. We plan to make him one of the most desired fashion brands in the world.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Felix fashion line move is being done to help DreamWorks Animation diversify under the pressure the studio is feeling from shareholders to improve their financial performance.
Felix the Cat was one of the first animated characters to gain great popularity with filmgoers. In 1919, Feline Follies, the first Felix the Cat silent animated short directed by Otto Messmer, made its debut in New York City. Ownership of the rights to Felix the Cat has changed over the years. Since 1970, the rights have belonged to artist Joe Oriolo and his son Don.
In 2002, TV Guide ranked Felix the Cat number 28 on its “50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time” list.