Dr. Seuss Enterprises Eyes Lucrative IP Sale

Image Credit: iStock, stefanamer

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Movie and television studios crave intellectual property; they want it a lot. For in the world of mass entertainment, recognizable characters and stories are hot, hot, hot. We’ll cut the rhymes before you get annoyed, but this is one story media executives should not avoid. (OK, no more. Promise.)

On Tuesday, sources told Axios that Dr. Seuss Enterprises — the private company managing Theodor Seuss Geisel’s life’s work — is currently in talks with bankers, seeking to come up with a valuation of the late author’s oeuvre in preparation for a possible sale to Hollywood.

Hollywood Loves Green Eggs and Ham

Whether it’s Warner Bros or Netflix or Walt Disney, securing the rights to popular children’s books is akin to winning the entertainment lottery. Just look at the House of Mouse, which acquired Marvel Entertainment, then primarily a comic-books and Saturday-morning-cartoons company, for $4 billion in 2009, and has subsequently turned it into one of the most successful and valuable entertainment franchises of all time.

The killer investment sparked a decade-long run of Hollywood studios fighting over potentially lucrative pre-existing IP. In recent years, the streaming boom has led to widespread demand for children’s content, and the rights to Dr. Seuss stories could bring value that will outmaneuver any other competitor in the space:

  • In September, Netflix acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company, which has rights to the late author’s popular works such as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for a reported $600 million, per the Financial Times.
  • Sources tell Axios the Dahl sale prompted the intensely private Seuss group to evaluate its options, but the company believes it could command a much higher price tag. Dr. Seuss is the top literary license in the United States — children’s or otherwise — in terms of print sales, per data from NPD BookScan seen by Axios.

And, of course, it’s not just movies and TV shows. The Dr. Seuss catalog is seemingly tailor-made for theme park resorts, meaning any potential sale is very likely to eclipse the $600 million Dahl haul. Oh, the places you could go…