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NeoPets goes Hollywood

The wildly popular virtual-pet site signs a multiple-picture deal with Warner Bros. Pictures.

Pretend-pets from the Web are headed for the big screen.

NeoPets, the wildly popular virtual-pet site, said Thursday that it has signed a multiple-picture deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, one of the five major film studios.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The studio has agreed to produce computer-animated feature films based on NeoPets characters such as Flotsam and Jetsam.

To own a NeoPet, people log on to NeoPets.com, select a virtual animal, and tend to it by earning points through contests and games. The company reports roughly 25 million pet owners worldwide.

The deal comes as Hollywood and Web companies are cinching closer ties. Sites including Yahoo, Google and America Online are courting studios and broadcasters and winning new deals to distribute their entertainment via the Web. And Hollywood is showing more interest in tapping the Web's popularity for marketing and development material.

AOL said Thursday that it has licensed its original Webisode, or online serial animation, called "Princess Natasha," for television reproduction on Cartoon Network, a cable channel owned by AOL's parent Time Warner. Also, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will publish two books based on the Princess series in May 2006.

Earlier in March, NeoPets also signed a deal with In-Fusio to bring the virtual-pet game to mobile phones. Popular with young girls, NeoPets is ranked the top toys and games site, measured by the amount of time kids spend with it, according to Nielsen NetRatings.