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Power Rangers morph back into Haim Saban's hands, will air on Nickelodeon [updated]

PowerRangersOne of the most popular -- and reviled -- icons of 1990s children's television is back in the hands of the man who launched it.

Media mogul Haim Saban has bought back the rights to "Power Rangers," the hit television show that fueled his dominance of children's television in the 1990s, from Walt Disney Co., which took control of the property in 2001.

Saban has also signed a deal with Nickelodeon, Disney's primary rival in the kids' TV business, to air 20 new episodes of "Power Rangers" that he will produce, along with a catalog of more than 700 episodes.

The deal is worth about $100 million, according to a person familiar with the situation. Saban declined to comment on the price.

Originally known as "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," the low-budget series debuted in 1993 and consisted primarily of recycled footage from Japan of monsters battling teenage superheroes whose voices were dubbed by American voice-over actors. Saban said new episodes, which will start airing in 2011, will be produced in a similar manner.

"Power Rangers" was one of the most popular shows on the cable channel Fox Family, a joint venture between Saban and News Corp. that was acquired by Walt Disney Co. in 2001 for $3.2 billion. The acquisition included rights to the show, which later transferred to smaller cable channel Jettix, now known as Disney XD, as its popularity faded and now airs on ABC stations at different times.

"I think this property has significant legs going forward if it's in an environment where it is nurtured and supported as opposed to being part of a huge portfolio," Saban said. "I think 'Power Rangers' can flourish and be more impactful than it has been for the past five years."

[Update, 4:35 p.m.: "The Power Rangers don’t fit with the Disney brand or with our long-term programming strategy," a company spokesman said in a statement.]

For Nickelodeon, the "Power Rangers" deal is part of a push to air more programming that appeals to young boys. The Viacom Inc.-owned network recently made a similar deal to relaunch the popular 1980s cartoon "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

"This fits in nicely as we are doing more things specifically for boys, and we are excited to add proven properties to our original slate," said Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami.

Zarghami added that although "Power Rangers" was somewhat controversial in the 1990s for its violence, she didn't think the show's campy martial arts would bother many parents today.

The acquisition is being done under the auspices of Saban Brands, a new company backed by $500 million of the media mogul's money with the goal of acquiring entertainment and consumer brands.

Saban said the company is in negotiations to buy three other brands. He declined to identify them but said that, unlike "Power Rangers," they are not aimed at children.

-- Ben Fritz

Times staff writers Joe Flint and Dawn C. Chmielewski contributed to this report.

Photo: The Power Rangers. Credit: Saban Brands

 
Comments () | Archives (9)

Incorrect, the monsters and villians of the first couple of series were dubbed but the teen superheroes and many of the supporting characters were American actors. I know it's only Power Rangers but let's get the facts right Fritz.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers first aired as part of the the popular Fox Kids television block in the 90's and then made it onto Fox Family when Saban made the deal with News Corp in 1998. Just sayin'. I for one am glad Saban has bought back the right seeing as how Disney didn't care about the series realizing a little too late that "it didn't fit with the Disney brand." This could lead to the possibility of finally being able to own the seasons on dvd which is exciting to me being that I grew up with the series remembering my start with "Day of the Dumpster" at the age of 6. Now, I'm still proud to admit that at 22 I am a HUGE fan of the Saban-era seasons and still watch both movies regularly. Mr. Haim Saban, thanks for saving the Power Rangers from the horrid grasp of Disney!

this deal is valued at $100 million?

So the Power Rangers are worth 1/7 of Miramax catalog?

It feels like Saban and co are in hype/publicity mode, probably to counter the major expose in The New Yorker magazine.

-this deal is valued at $100 million?

Disney valued it that low. The brand is worth 2.5-3 times that... or it would be if Disney hadn't run it into the ground.
If Saban can perk it up a bit then this will be a sweet, sweet deal on his part.

The Power Rangers brand belonged to Disney, which made it part of the Disney catalog. Disney owns Buena Vista Home Entertainment (now AKA Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) which is the same distributer for Miramax Films. The Walt Disney Company owns Miramax Films, so it is inaccurate to say the Power Rangers catalog is part of Miramax.

"Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" don't fit in with Disney as a company brand or long-term programming strategy? And I suppose the new image of pop princess Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus pole dancing and dressing provocatively has served the company well in the last couple of years?

It's about time!! I thought Power Rangers would never come back. I have been watching that show since I was little. I don't think Disney is the right place for this show. Saban's Power Rangers were better. The first season looked low budget in the special effects, but the acting was solid. I give this show a thumbs up.

I love Power Rangers and always have and will love it. I even got up at 6 in the morning to watch it on ABC. Thank you Haim Saban for giving us Power Rangers again

Disney will Buy Everything back and All! Really!


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