Weekly E-news, Issue #241, December 4, 2007

Vivendi, Activision Merger to Create Gaming PowerhouseParis-based Vivendi SA and Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision Inc. said Sunday that their respective board members approved a plan to combine Activision with the French company's game unit, Viv

April 6, 2018

Weekly E-news, Issue #241, December 4, 2007

Vivendi, Activision Merger to Create Gaming Powerhouse

Paris-based Vivendi SA and Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision Inc. said Sunday that their respective board members approved a plan to combine Activision with the French company's game unit, Vivendi Games, which includes Blizzard Entertainment and three other divisions. The deal would create an $18.9 billion electronic entertainment juggernaut, rivaling the world's current No. 1 publisher, Electronic Arts Inc., in terms of the variety and types of games it would offer worldwide.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2008 pending shareholder and government approval.

Activision, whose shares rose nearly 13 percent on the news, now is strong in console games, with titles that include the music game Guitar Hero III, the combat game Call of Duty 4, and skateboarding games starring Tony Hawk.

Vivendi's Blizzard Entertainment leads the market for subscription-based online video games with the widely popular World of Warcraft


Kid’s Shows Take the Prizes

The British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) held its Children’s Awards last week. The winners were:

Animation—The Secret Show, Christopher O’Hare, Tony Collingwood, and Andrea Tran (Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment/CBeebies/CBBC)
Break-through talent—Charles Martin, director, My Life As A Popat
Channel of the year—Cbeebies
Drama—That Summer Day, Hannah Pescod, Jon East, and Clive Bradley (Hat Trick Productions/CBBC)
Entertainment—The Slammer, Steve Ryde, Jeanette Goulbourn, and John Payne (CBBC/CBBC)
Factual—The Wrong Trainers, Kez Margrie (CBBC/CBBC)
Feature film—Happy Feet, George Miller, Ben Miller, and Doug Mitchell (Kingdom Pictures/Warner Bros. UK)
Independent production company of the year—Aardman
Interactive—The Secret Show (Web site), Glynn Hayward, Dylan James, and Tony Collingwood (Complete Control/BBC Worldwide/Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment)
International—SpongeBob SquarePants, Stephen Hillenburg, and Alan Smart (United Plankton Pictures Inc. for Nickelodeon/Nickelodeon UK)
Learning Primary—Espresso Primary, Mike Spooner, and David Summers (Espresso Education)
Learning Secondary—Recollections, Eyewitnesses Remember The Holocaust, Karen Pollock, Ian Wall, and David Willing (Holocaust Educational Trust/USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education/Film Education/Picture Production Company)
Pre-school animation—Charlie & Lola, Claudia Lloyd, and Kitty Taylor (Tiger Aspect Productions/CBeebies)
Pre-school live action—In The Night Garden, Anne Wood, Andrew Davenport, Dirk Campbell (Ragdoll Productions/CBeebies)
Presenter—Barney Harwood, Smile (Darrall Macqueen/CBBC)
Short form—Nick Big Green Thing, Claire Norowzian, Akin Akinsiku, and Sonia Ortiz Alcón (Nickelodeon UK & Foreign Office/Nickelodeon UK)
Video Game—Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party (PS2), Dave Allsopp, Paul Johnson, and Ivan Davies (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe/SCEE External Development Studio/Magenta Software)
Writer—Bridget Hurst, Charlie & Lola (Tiger Aspect Productions/CBeebies)

Copyright Promotions Takes on Rocket Boy & Toro

Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) has signed up as the pan-European rights agency for Rocket Boy & Toro, the comic children’s animated series scheduled to premier on CBBC in late 2008. Aimed at 5- to 8-year olds, this 2D animated adventure series follows intergalactic messenger Rocket Boy and his loyal but feisty guard-sheep Toro as they deliver gifts to robot friends throughout the galaxy, outsmarting the dreaded enemy Dr. Square.  Consisting of 52 x 11-minute episodes, Rocket Boy &Toro is the creation of James Lee, chief executive of South Korean production company Imagestone.  The series is co-produced by UK production houses Cosgrove Hall Films and Village Productions. Worldwide distribution is being handled by London-based Indigo Film & TV—an independent distributor and co-producer of films, drama series, documentaries, entertainment series, and children’s programming for the international market. 

Taffy Entertainment Boosts Asian Presence

Paris-based Taffy Entertainment inked a slew of new sales with broadcasters in Asia for four of its leading animated series, which include Code Lyoko, Fantastic Four, Dive Olly Dive!, and Dr. Dog. The deals consolidate Taffy’s presence in the region, one year after setting up a Shanghai office to extend its international reach.

Fantastic Four has been picked up by Asia TV in Hong Kong, ABS-CBN in the Philippines, and OBS Korea. Animax in Korea has secured the rights to the first season of Code Lyoko along with Starlight in Pakistan. Dive Olly Dive! has been bought by Cartoon Network India, Cineplex Thailand, and by TPI in Indonesia. Dr. Dog has been snapped up by HBO Asia.

Weta and Chapman Team Up for Animated Adventures

New Zealand based Weta Productions and the UK’s Chapman Entertainment have teamed up to develop a range of children’s television properties. The first venture will be an animated comedy targeted at boys between the ages of 6 and 9. Chapman Entertainment has a portfolio of hit international pre-school shows including Fifi and the Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car, which follow creative director Keith Chapman’s creation of the global phenomenon Bob the Builder. Fifi, Roary, and Bob currently feature in the UK’s top six selling pre-school toy licenses and have enjoyed impressive television sales to over 200 territories.

Academy and BAFTA Award winning Weta is a leader in special effects following the global success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Weta has also recently ventured into children’s television through Weta Productions with the production of the animated series Jane and the Dragon.

The development project will be led by Martin Baynton and Richard Taylor of Weta as well as Keith Chapman. They are working on a selection of 2D and CGI animated properties, which will be presented to broadcasters and the licensing community shortly with pre-production expected to start in 2008.

Junk Food Inks Deal for Candy Brands

Kaleidoscope, LLC signed a deal with Junk Food Clothing Company for Annabelle Candy Company’s suite of classic candy brands. As part of the deal, Junk Food will design a line of tees, sweatshirts, tank tops, thermal tops, and other fashion tops featuring the Big Hunk and Abba-Zaba brands. The line is due at retail in spring 2008.

Cabbage Patch Kids Celebrate on QVC

Play Along launched its Premiere Edition Cabbage Patch Kids Celebration Baby on QVC at midnight on Monday, December 3. The new Celebration Babies were created to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the brand. Each doll is adorned in birthday party attire and comes with a special Carvel-branded ice cream cone that can really be licked. Every Celebration Baby is “one of a kind” and comes with two extra fashions, a unique name, birth certificate, and adoption papers.

Early Birds Get Special Treatment at FAO Schwarz

FAO Schwarz is hosting exclusive early shopping hours for residents of New York City’s five boroughs (Dec. 3rd, 10th, and 17th), international guests (Dec. 4th, 11th, and 18th) and all other U.S. residents outside the NYC area (Dec. 5th, 12th, and 19th). Guests will also be treated to complimentary personal shoppers and free delivery by the FAO Toy Mobile to delivery destinations between 46th Street and 96th Street.  Those travelling further can purchase extra suitcases at the store. Each morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. specific guests with the proper identification will be admitted via FAO Schwarz’s 58th Street entrance.

VIZ Pictures to Open Movie Theatre

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media LLC, bought an art-house movie theatre due to open in winter 2008/2009 in the heart of San Francisco’s Japan Town. The theatre will specialize in screening Japanese films and anime and furthers the company’s strategy to become a pre-eminent distributor and exhibitor of Japan’s hottest visual entertainment. The 150-seat movie theatre will also house a multi-boutique commercial building called The J-Pop Center (for Japanese Pop culture) that will include a bookstore, café, and several hip fashion boutiques that originated in Tokyo.

Mothercare’s International Expansion Continues

UK-based Mothercare has reported group sales up 24.3% to £328.5 million for the 28 weeks ended October 13, 2007, during which it acquired specialist toy retailer ELC and opened 45 additional international doors. Group underlying profit before taxation was down 13.2% to £10.5 million, but up 10.7% to £13.4 million after excluding £2.9 million of ELC’s first half losses. Group profit before taxation was down 52.3% to £6.1 million after non-underlying charges of £4.4m and ELC first half losses.

UK first half like-for-like sales, including direct, were up 2.5% with Mothercare up 2.8% in the first half and ELC up 1.9% since the acquisition. During the period, 21 new ELC inserts have opened within larger Mothercare UK stores, the Gurgle.com social networking Web site for parents was launched, and 45 new international franchise stores were opened. The total now amounts to 462 stores (357 Mothercare and 105 ELC) in 45 countries. A joint venture will open three trial stores in China in 2008.

The Singing Bee Strikes a Chord With Partners

Joy Tashjian Marketing Group inked several licensing deals for The Singing Bee on behalf of producers Juma Entertainment and The Gurin Company. Primed for this holiday season are board and card games from Cardinal Industries: DVD games from Imagination Games, and interactive karaoke products from Outrageous International. The Singing Bee is a variety-competition show that challenges contestants to accurately sing the lyrics to popular songs—even when the band stops playing.

The Sharpe Co. to Represent “Dangerous” Brand

The Sharpe Company was named North American licensing agent for The Dangerous Book for Boys in a deal with AM Heath and Rocket Licensing on behalf of co-authors Conn and Hal Iggulden. The book contains everything boys need to know—from details on the solar system and famous battles—to inspiring stories of incredible courage and bravery—to learning how to race go-carts and make a bow and arrow. Available categories include traditional toys and kits including science, magic, and “how to” kits, as well as apparel, stationery, and gifts.

Kabillion Goes “Crazy” for Pet Initiative

Kabillion launched a new kid- and pet-friendly microsite www.kabillion.com/crazypets in conjunction with Crazy Pet, which promotes the values children learn from caring for their family pets.  In addition to participating on Kabillion’s Video On-Demand and online broadband (Kabillion.com) channels, Crazy Pet will also provide interstitial programming featuring live-action joke videos, animated shorts, and tips for proper (and fun) pet care and training. The theme of the microsite, “Characters Building Character” features the Crazy Pet characters in a variety of activities, games, and videos as well as a caption contest, Crazy Pet of the Week photo contest, and Joke of the Week, as well as IM icons and wallpapers.

Hello Upsy Daisy Dances on to DVD


Early next year BBC Worldwide is launching its third DVD out of the hit In The Night Garden series. Hello Upsy Daisy will include five episodes from the show featuring the character and will be released on February 18, 2008. Created by Anne Wood and Andy Davenport and produced by Ragdoll Productions, creator of the Teletubbies, In the Night Garden is a magical exploration of an imaginary picture-book world. It was launched on CBeebies in March ’07.

Lifestyle Brand Ramps Up Licensing Push

Skatelab, a brand aimed at boys 6 to 15 who spend their weekends and afternoons at the skate parks, has begun wheeling and dealing in the licensing business. New deals were signed with Jem Sportswear as its lead apparel player; products launched at Macy’s for back-to-school with others heading to shelves this holiday season. Other partners include Elan-Polo, Inc. for footwear and August Accessories for headwear, backpacks, sunglasses, and other accessories, which will hit the marketplace next fall. Also on board is Rand International for skateboards and safety gear and Skateboard Furnishings for room accessories and furniture made out of skateboards. Skatelab, based in Simi Valley, Calif. and Atlantic Beach, Fla., is heralded as one of the top skate parks in the U.S.

Big Tent Secures Deals for Domo & Crusty Demons

Big Tent Entertainment continues to drive the momentum behind properties Domo and Crusty Demons adding new partners to each property’s portfolio. New partnerships for Domo include Dark Horse Comics for stationery and collectibles, Concept One for fashion accessories, Logotel for junior girls’ apparel and accessories, Rix Products for stationery and novelty items, and Toyolink for coin banks. Hot Properties Merchandising has expanded its existing product mix to include key chains. Products are already headed to shelves.

Motocross brand Crusty Demons also attracted new partners with Fifth Sun on board to develop an exclusive line of printed and embellished t-shirts, fashion and novelty tops, jerseys, fleece sets, tank tops, thermal tops, bandanas, and board shorts for both Crusty Demons and Crusty’s Dirt Demons.  Crusty’s Dirt Demons is the new brand based on the hit FUSE reality television series.  Fifth Sun will also release a line of baseball and woven hats based on the Crusty Demons brand.

Mr Bean Gets a Blast

Tiger Aspect has signed a new Mr Bean license with Blast! for a Nintendo Wii game release in 2008. Blast Entertainment, part of the Mastertronic Group, has recently developed a Mr Bean Sony PS2 game that launched at UK retailers last week in time for the key Christmas selling period.

Sweet Deal for Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly made its foray into the baked goods category via a deal with BC Bundt, which was brokered by The Licensing Company. BC Bundt created four cakes based on top-selling Jelly Belly flavors—Very Cherry, Tutti Fruitti, Blueberry, and Strawberry Cheesecake. The products launched at Wal-Mart and are rolling out nationally throughout a wide range of distribution channels, including grocery stores. In 2008 Jelly Belly will expand into pudding and gelatin mixes, freezer bars, cake decorations, and automotive air fresheners.


LF USA Acquires Sleepwear Manufacturer

LF USA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Limited, acquired American Marketing Enterprises Inc. and its related companies. AME’s current sleepwear portfolio includes Spiderman, Hanna Montana, High School Musical, Cars, Dora the Explorer, Barbie, and Disney Princess.


Midway Games Has a Ball With New Game

Midway Games will come to market with NBA Ballers: Chosen One for Xbox 360 and PS3 next spring. The release is the next installment in its NBA Ballers franchise and features one-on-one and two-on-two action where players can select from more than 65 NBA superstars to be the next “Chosen One”.

London 2012 and Royal Mint to Produce 1908 Olympic Games Coin

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) finalized a deal with the Royal Mint to issue a new commemorative £2 coin for 2008 celebrating the centenary of the 1908 London Olympic Games.

The deal with the Royal Mint is part of LOCOG’s licensing strategy, and the licensing royalties paid to LOCOG will contribute to the £2 billion cost of hosting and staging the Games in 2012. This budget will be raised privately through a mix of international and domestic sponsorships, broadcasting rights, merchandising, licensing, and ticket sales. To mark the first London Olympic Games held in 1908 the British Olympic Association will be running 1908 commemorative events and celebrations throughout 2008. These will include a Marathon Celebration, a 1908 Olympic Exhibition, a Polo Final, a Tug of War event, and a Rugby Final.

Execs on the Move

Twentieth Century Fox appointed Grant Kahn as vice president of international licensing. HIT Entertainment Limited appointed Gary Krakower as senior vice president, business development for North America. Scholastic Media named Daisy Kline to the post of director of marketing & brand management while Rachel Bader has been promoted to director of consumer products. Jarden Corporation appointed Gregory S. Shearson as president and ceo of Jarden Outdoor Solutions. TippingSprung named Allan DeYoung vice president of brand strategy and research. Atlantyca Entertainment named Niccolò Sacchi production manager. BabyFirstTV promoted Kristin Feltz to vice president of marketing. Entertainment Rights appointed Adam Selly to the newly created position of head of sales (excluding the U.S., Canada, and Japan). Entertainment Marketing Group (EMG) appointed Petra Luna vice president, promotions.

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