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DreamWorks Buys 95-Year-Old Felix the Cat To Make Him A ‘Fashion Brand’

DreamWorks Animation has bought the rights to the 95-year-old feline cartoon icon Felix the Cat. The studio acquired the character by paying an undisclosed sum to Don Oriolo, whose father Joe helped revive Felix in the 1950s and later assumed ownership of the character.

In the announcement at Licensing Expo, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said that Felix “goes beyond evergreen status and rises to something even more uncommon, as he is a true icon.” So, what does one do after they acquire a true icon? “We plan to make him one of the most desired fashion brands in the world,” explained animation studio owner Katzenberg. Because how better to revive a joyous, personality-filled cartoon character than plastering it onto teenybopper underwear and printing a hackneyed #YOLO-style motivational message underneath it?

Like many projects that DreamWorks undertakes, expanding the merchandising footprint of a vintage cartoon character is straight out of another company’s playbook. In this case, the model has been perfected by Disney, which re-acquired Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 2006 so they could cash in on the character’s merchandising craze in Japan.

At the rate things are going, it’s only a matter of time before every rubber hose cartoon character will be ‘rediscovered’ by a corporation. Watch out Bimbo, Bosko, and Flip!

  • Sevenfeet


  • boyraisin2

    Hey, if it means more Felix clocks, I’m all for it.

  • skent

    Unlike those other obscurities, Felix is a true icon. Felix should be worth a
    hell of a lot more than Oswald for example. This could bring a little prestige to
    the Dreamworks company, although it should be noted that you can’t just
    buy an animation legacy.

    Katzenberg knows what he’s doing.

    • John A

      Let’s face it–Oswald was never more than a Felix knockoff. It took a couple of cartoons to make Mickey a personality in his own right. Back in the silent era, Felix was the dude.

      • Felix was a Krazy Kat knockoff. Not that I don’t love him.

        • John A

          Felix and Krazy aren’t even CLOSE to being the same character. They’re both cats, but that’s it.

  • Well, It’s not like Don Oriolo has been doing much for the character recently. (And Personally, I’m not as found of the ’50s TV series as I am of the original theatrical shorts.) Let us not forget how awful that 1989 theatrical Felix film was…but at least the short lived ’90s Felix TV series was trying to be wacky/fun and embodied a Fleisher inspired style.


    • jonhanson

      The Felix feature has a special place in my heart since I grew up on it and when I watched a bootleg version of it again in college I have to admit that I still found a lot to enjoy. It’s definitely a unique experience, not going to say its good but I still think the gonzo insanity is better than the generic stuff that most icons his age get put in.

    • Hulk

      I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m actually optimistic DW will do something cool with this character who provided the template for Mickey Mouse, Bosko, Oswald and countless others.

  • Not sure how I feel about this myself, I’d rather the cat stayed with the Oriolo Family instead.

  • Squidhead

    Felix has his own bubble gum in Japan. (It’s Bazooka Joe sized but really tasty)

  • Ted

    Bosko should be so lucky!

  • It’ll just be a matter of time before we see Felix making that eyebrow smirk.

  • DangerMaus

    So what’s worse? Turning the character into a merchandising icon and keeping it in the public eye or letting it sink into obscurity. At least this way he may gain a new life outside of the memories of aging animation fans.

    • Arnaud

      A new life where he’s an empty picture on clothes, not a character anymore.

    • However…

      No. The world doesn’t need more crappy animation merchandise. Felix can be remembered by animators and historians.

  • Ryoku240

    It’d be nice if this meant more of the Felix shorts up on the internet making ad revenue, and reprints of the old comic strips.

    Theres enough Felix merchandise as it is.

  • Paul M

    Yay. Now bring back the Katzenjammer Kids and use ’em to sell e-cigs.

    Katzenberg – Katzenjammer… how could it fail?

  • GW

    I’m worried by the direction that Dreamworks is taking. They’ve never been an auteur studio but it seems that they’re becoming more profit oriented like Disney did in the 1950’s. Now they’re focusing on old properties in addition to coming up with original ideas. I wish that these large corporations would avoid sticking their fingers in other pies and focus on original properties. I resent the continual gobbling up of small companies and properties by large corporations. It’s not that I’m against the publicity that a well managed corporate owner can give to an old property. That’s good. I’m more worried about the properties of the past slipping into too few hands. My nightmare is that all the large media companies eventually consolidate until there’s only one or two left and the producers of the content are also its distributors.

    • That is what I’ve already been fearing for years.

    • At the risk of repeating myself in 2 separate discussions, I must post here also, — my quote “I like how you think! As an artist myself… looking to get into the cartoon industry … hitting brick walls… it is so cut throat and dog eat dog greedy….. I was actually sitting there at the Expo when DreamWorks announced that they acquired Felix. In my head I thought ‘acquired’ is not the word. The 2014 Licensing Expo in Vegas was nothing more than a big (tax write off) party for all the Huge Corporations. For us artists sitting in the corner it was our sweat, blood and years of tears life on exhibit with our Cheezytoons cartoon characters making their World Debut begging to be noticed. It was obvious the big companies sent ‘super top secret’ scouts over to look at us in the corner ……… ya know……. So, we are on our own. And happier for it!”

  • Thelma

    Felix the Cat is old enough to be public domain and has been for years. The argument that Felix is not yet p.d. balances on that 1959 Joe Orilio TV version, which added a few new elements to the Felix franchise, presumably allowing re-copyrighting it to a later date. It’s a flimsy legal argument at best and a smart lawyer might take it on if he or she were not afraid of being found cold in the concrete bed of the snaking L.A. River, which happens to run through Glendale.

  • Oh no!

    • DarklingDragon

      This honestly made laugh out loud. Felix looks so demented.

  • truly- if ever there was a being which was so desperately in need of understanding the timeless truth behind YOLO, it is ye

    good day my friend,

  • Ant G

    astroy boy, powerpuff girls, popey, Flinstones, mr.peabody, bullwinkle, and many others; all making a come back.The industry wants to stay safe and reuse old ip’s that already have a fanbase with kids by now to introduce those franchises to. A whole audience already guaranteed; it attracts the kids that they spend so much to market research and churn out the same formula over and over with different masks. And it attracts’ the parent’s sentimentality with nostalgia. But personally I’ve moved on and would rather see new material. Im not attached to any of those franchises so maybe it doesn’t work on me (because I can admit, Incredibles 2 did grab my attention because of nostalgia alone)

    • DarklingDragon

      I love Astro Boy and the other cartoons you mentioned.

      I didn’t really like that Astro Boy movie by Imagi Animation Studios. The same thing could be said for the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie that was made a while back.

      I agree with wanting to see new material. New material means new opportunities. Remakes could either be really good or really bad on how it’s handled.

  • Steven Bowser

    It’s better than “Felix the Cat: The Movie”… ANYTHING is better than that…

    • Matthew

      The only thing I remember about that is that disembodied CGI head.

  • K

    I see you specifically chose the ugliest picture of Felix possible on the internet.

  • Megan

    Well…on the bright side, if this does well as a…fashion thing, it could pave the way to more animated Felix content?

    Oddly enough, I think Fleischer styled artwork could fit in really with those faux-vintage type designs that are pretty popular right now.

  • MaskedManAICN

    Hmm Dreamworks seems to be on a buying spree (first the Classic Media library and now this). Proving if you can’t create your own animated universe (ala Universal, Disney, Warner Bros) to license, you can buy one.

    Remember than Dreamworks doesn’t believe in profits from movies anymore- it’s all about the licensing deals.

    • From a business stand point it’s smart, you put your character out there in a movie, make people think your character is popular by putting all sorts of merchandise out there and making all kinds of promotional deals with various corporations, and then in 2 to 3 years put out a sequel and ride the gravy train again, repeat this a few times and eventually you can put out merchandise without even needing a movie to promote and people will buy it because, congratulations, your character is now “iconic”.

      Of course for this to work people will need to be interested in and then buy said merchandise the first go around.

  • Chad Townsend

    Thats good news for a forgotten character. Dreamworks probably needs its Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny.

  • Joshua Abegglen

    95 years old you say? How long until old Felix falls into public domain?

  • Not you I guess.

  • Tim

    There is no link to the Krazy Kat cartoon, both links are for Felix.

  • Wasn’t Felix supposed to have his own new show on Cartoon Network? Was that cancelled?

  • Would love to see a re-boot of Felix like Mickey got with the TV shorts at Disney, but I doubt it’ll happen…