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Shamu is shared by Anheuser-Busch.

Shamu is shared by Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc. has agreed to spend $1.1 billion to buy the Sea World parks from Harcourt Brace Janovich Inc., but it may have to share the marketing rights to their symbol, Shamu the killer whale.

The Orlando-based HBJ already has a licensing agreement with Watson General Pictures Inc. of La Jolla, CA, which created the cartoon "Shamu - The Beginning" that has not yet appeared on television.

Any proceeds from the animated special or merchandising spinoffs will be shared between Anheuser-Busch, Watson General Pictures and Watson's partner in the making of the movie, Lion's Den Venture.

Anheuser-Busch will also have to share profits, which analysts say could reach into the millions of dollars, from the marketing of other Sea World characters an animals, according to the licensing agreement.

Vicki Pearlman, Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman, said the company knew about Watson General Pictures when it agreed to purchase the parks from HBJ in September. The sale of the Sea World parks is set to close later this month.

"The company was aware of the licensing agreement relating to the Shamu character," she said.

One expert said Anheuser-Busch may try to buy the rights back from Watson General Pictures.

"I would think Anheuser-Busch would want control of the characters," said Bert Boksen, who follows theme parks for the Raymond, James & Associates Inc. regional brokerage in St. Petersburg, FL. "Somebody else... could portray Shamu in a commercial drinking Miller beer."

Watson General Pictures' 1988 annual report indicates that the agreement gives Sea World royalties ranging from six percent to 50 percent of proceeds from merchandising, as well as a share in proceeds from the cartoon.

Company offials said the annual report shows that its plans include "initiation of a worldwide marketing and merchandising program" to promote the photogenic killer whale, as well as television specials, a feature film valued at $6 million to $8 million and a children's TV series.

The report also indicates that Watson has been approached by "a major merchandising company" that is interested in marketing the Shamu projects with the company; however, the company was not identified.

Pearlman would not say whether Anheuser-Busch has been in touch with Watson or has an interest in buying the rights back from Watson.
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Title Annotation:Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. buys Sea World parks from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Dec 4, 1989
Previous Article:Alcohol warning labels receive complaints from Congress.
Next Article:Heileman reports positive 1990 results.

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