Universal Studios Consumer Products Group selected The Beanstalk Group to manage its entertainment licensing program in the U.S. As part of the deal, Universal will remain responsible for global licensing and retail strategies as well as building brand recognition for its catalog while The Beanstalk Group will have licensing management responsibility for select properties and categories, including children’s series “Curious George” and “The Land Before Time”; upcoming movies including
The Mummy: Tomb of the China Warrior
due July 2008;
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
due August 2008;
The Tale of Despereaux
due holiday 2008; and Universal Library retro classics such as
and Universal Studios’
Universal’s day-to-day operation will remain under the direction and control of Cindy Chang, vice president of worldwide business development, and Debbie Luner, vice president of worldwide marketing and brand management. The Beanstalk Group assembled key talent from diverse media, entertainment, retail, and marketing backgrounds to provide the full-service expertise necessary to ensure the success of the Universal Studios licensing program and will expand its presence in Los Angeles in the coming months.
European regulators approved the estimated $2.1 billion purchase by
of the Bertelsmann music publishing group, a deal that will give Vivendi unmatched market power in determining how much performers and songwriters earn from their creations.
According to a report in
The New York Times
, the acquisition of the BMG Music Publishing, which is expected to close shortly, means that the Universal Music Group of Vivendi, already the world’s biggest record company, will also become the biggest music publisher. That distinction previously belonged to the publishing division of the EMI Group.
Universal already controls both recording and publishing rights for performers including
and 50 Cent. The new deal adds other performers, including Rammstein and Keane. Universal will also control publishing from acts under other labels, including Coldplay.
The regulators in Brussels expressed concern that the combined company would exert too much power, particularly as the industry sells more music through digital services and mobile phones. To ward off regulatory opposition, Universal said it would shed certain publishing catalogs from Zomba Music and Rondor UK.
Granada Ventures Commits to Bella Sara
Granada Ventures, the L&M and publishing division of UK broadcaster ITV, aligned with Hidden City Games to license horse-themed property Bella Sara. Granada Ventures will license consumer products worldwide, with the exception of Scandinavia, and will be responsible for all product categories except collectible cards, for which Hidden City Games will retain sole rights.
Weinstein Joins Forces with Exodus Film Group
The Weinstein Company will work with Exodus Film Group to jointly develop, produce, and finance a multi-picture slate of CG-animated feature films, DVDs, and television series. The first collaboration is CG-animated film
, which is due in October 2008. Simon & Schuster Children’s plans seven
books published under their Simon Scribbles and Simon Spotlight imprints. Exodus will establish itself in New York with a new office in addition to its headquarters in Los Angeles and European operations in Paris. Other CG-animated projects for The Weinstein Company include
Escape From Planet Earth
Cricket In Times Square
Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil
Web-Slinger to Star in New Animated TV Series
Spider-Man swings into the Saturday morning lineup in early 2008 with a new animated series tentatively titled “Spectacular Spider-Man,” from Sony Pictures Television on Kids’ WB! on the CW Network. The series focuses on Peter Parker, a not-so-typical 16-year-old entering his junior year of high school. Parker must conceal his secret identity, confront the multi-leveled pressures of teenage life at home and school, and combat even bigger super-villains than ever before. Spider-Man Merchandising L.P., the limited partnership between Sony Pictures Consumer Products Inc. and Marvel Entertainment, Inc., will launch a licensing and merchandising initiative.
Everlast Worldwide Pumps Up Image
Everlast Worldwide Inc. will come to market in the third quarter with a rebranding effort to build on its status as a premier athletic company. The new integrated marketing effort will reveal a refreshed logotype, a new icon, corporate colors and tagline, “GREATNESS IS WITHIN,” via print, out-of-home, and Internet advertising campaigns. Everlast will further communicate this rebranding effort in 2008 on all product packaging and communication materials worldwide.
Cartoon Network Is Animated about Deal
Former tennis pro and current Boys & Girls Clubs of America Ambassador Anna Kournikova is teaming with Cartoon Network on “Get Animated with Anna Kournikova,” a DVD series that teaches kids fun, creative ways to stay healthy and active in any typical indoor classroom. The DVDs will feature multiple Cartoon Network characters joining Kournikova and BGCA kids in various demonstrations and will be introduced to some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country starting June 4. Informational kits have also been developed with an instruction booklet or manual, daily achievement logs, certificates of milestone/goal achievement, and in-club brochures for parents describing the program. All materials will be available both in English and Spanish. Cartoon Network will help promote the program with banners, hotlinks, and video messaging at CartoonNetwork.com while BGCA will send eBlasts to all clubs.
HIT Entertainment To Open Europe’s First ThomasLand
Thomas & Friends will journey to the UK in Europe’s first ThomasLand due spring 2008 in Drayton Manor Theme Park in the Midlands. The attraction will be set within 6,000 square meters filled with themed rides such as Cranky Crane Tower Ride, the Troublesome Trucks Rollercoaster, and Harold the Heli-Ride. ThomasLand at Drayton Manor will also feature a brand-new Thomas train that takes children on a five-minute journey through Sodor and a strong retail presence offering a range of licensed merchandise.
Scholastic Media Extends Clifford Line
Scholastic Media is unleashing a new extension to its Clifford the Big Red Dog pet line with toys, beds, leashes, and snacks. Recent deals with Pet Goods Manufacturing and Bil Jac Foods will bring more products to stores this summer with distribution aimed across all levels of retail. New products in the health and beauty category are also planned including disposable pet wipes, wee wee pads, and stain and odor removers.
Taffy Entertainment Taps HOLA for Latin America
Taffy Entertainment brought on Canadian-based HOLA Entertainment to serve as its distribution agent for free TV broadcasters and video distributors in Latin America. Taffy will continue handling distribution of the Pay TV rights for their catalog. The new collaboration will enable Taffy to expand its existing business in the region, taking advantage of HOLA’s relationships with additional broadcasters in the area.
Pressman Toys Gives Board Games New “Identity”
Universal Studios Consumer Products Group has granted Pressman Toy Corp. the license to create “Identity” board and card games in the U.S. and Canada. The game show asks contestants to size up a group of 12 strangers and match their identities to win a top prize of $500,000. First products arrive on shelves this summer.
Bang on the Door Launches Groovy Site
Bang on the Door launched its first dedicated Web site,
. The first phase will focus on the Groovy Chick character and her friends, and will host features such as recipes, make-and-do craft, and fashion; a beat-the-clock, spot-the-difference game; and downloads for computers and mobiles. The second phase will feature e-cards and e-card makers, and an art gallery for consumers to upload their artwork. The third phase, which will focus on Fairy Girl and her friends, enables users to color images with a paint bucket; print line art characters to color-in; and do online jigsaw puzzles. The property has more than 60 licensees covering territories from Europe and Australia to the Far East as well as Bang on the Door baby and Bang on the Door kids.
Erector Builds Out New Consumer Site
Erector will reach out to consumers via its new Web site,
. The site is designed to give fans greater access to the company’s products, as well as those belonging to its distributing company, NIKKO America. It will also provide a place for retailers to gain product knowledge, including product launch dates, inventory, images, and pricing. The site will also offer a link to Erector’s distributing company and Nikko’s online sites, including
and Nikko Home Electronics
Zimmer Twins Attract International Attention
Bejuba! Entertainment was granted international distribution rights to zinc Roe Design’s animated interactive series, “The Zimmer Twins,” featuring psychic twins Eva and Edgar Zimmer. The hybrid on-air and online show invites children to create their own animated stories using an online editing tool and a library of animated content, which are then aired on TV. The series has already been licensed to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and is set to air as part of the RollerCoaster block on ABC TV and ABC2, ABC’s free-to-air digital channel, as well as on the channel’s companion Web site.
Ubisoft Takes Serious Look at Casual Video Game Biz
Ubisoft expanded its casual video game business and formed an internal development structure to be led by executive producer Pauline Jacquey. Among the first projects are the new “My Coach” series of games including “My Word Coach” due on Wii and Nintendo DS in fall 2007 and “My Life Coach” slated for the Nintendo DS in holiday 2007. The company’s Petz franchise will also be greatly expanded with a Wii game for the first time.
Execs on the Move
Cookie Jar Entertainment appointed Ed Adams to the newly created position of vice president, business affairs and sales.
AETN All Asia Networks named Louis Boswell general manager; Michele Schofield director of content, programming, acquisitions & production; and Connie Lai director of marketing.
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