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Big Idea Productions, makers of the best-selling VeggieTales video series, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, as part of a deal to sell the financially troubled company.

Big Idea has agreed to sell its assets—including copyrights to Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber and other VeggieTales characters—to Classic Media LLC, which owns or manages media properties such as "Rocky and Bullwinkle," "Lassie," "The Lone Ranger" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Despite Big Idea's continued popularity—eight of the top 10 selling videos in the Christian retail market are from Big Idea, including the recently released The Ballad of Little Joe—the company has had cash flow problems in recent years.

Last November, following the release of the motion picture Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, which grossed more than $24 million at the box office, Big Idea laid off 30 employees. Additional layoffs have cut the company's staff from a high of 200 part-and full-time employees to a current staff of 44.

"To call the last year difficult is an understatement," said Big Idea founder and CEO Phil Vischer in a statement. "In the midst of VeggieTales' success, we made several key strategic errors that led us to this point. Due to their great enthusiasm for both our business and our ministry, I believe Classic Media is a wonderful partner to help guide Big Idea back to financial health."

Kris Fuhr, a spokesperson for Big Idea, said the company intends to continue making VeggieTales videos, with an Easter special due for release next February, followed by videos in May and September. Plans for a second VeggieTales film, announced last fall, are now on hold, Fuhr said.

"There are projects that are ready to go," she said, "but they have to have the ...

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September 2003

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