HASBRO REGAINS RIGHT TO ITS ANIMATED LIBRARY |
by Steve Fritz
Hasbro, Inc. announced it reacquired the worldwide distribution rights to the Sunbow Library of Hasbro Classics programming from TV-Loonland, which held the rights to license the content.
Under the terms of the deal, Hasbro has regained ownership of nearly 1,000 episodes of classic programming featuring many of the company's most established and well regarded brands, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop. This acquisition increases Hasbro's content library to nearly 2,000 episodes of programming covering over 30 brands. Sunbow was once one of the largest providers of syndicated and Saturday morning animation, and currently goes under the name of Sony Wonder.
"As we deliver new immersive entertainment experiences to audiences worldwide, it was extremely important that we had the rights to fully control the usage of our intellectual properties," said Brian Goldner, Hasbro's Chief Operating Officer. "Entertainment is becoming increasingly important in helping us to strengthen and build our brands globally, and this will enable us to engage consumers in new and exciting ways."
"We are very pleased with this deal, which is mutually beneficial for both Hasbro and TV-Loonland," said Simon Flamank, CEO of TV-Loonland. "It allows us to repay the majority of our outstanding debt and invest in new strategic opportunities, while providing Hasbro with the ability to bring its world-class brands to diverse audiences in new and entertaining ways."
At the moment, Hasbro is hard at work with Dreamworks/Paramount on a second Transformers movie as well as a live action GI Joe feature film with Paramount. Transformers the movie was a smash hit directed by Michael Bay, garnering over $700 million worldwide. GI Joe is currently filming under the direction of Stephen Sommers. There is an animated Transformers TV series on Cartoon Network. If that isn’t enough, a new animated GI Joe series is currently in the early stages of production. At present, the latest version of the animated show is subtitled Sigma 6 and airs on the 4 Kids network.
This is an interesting maneuver in Hasbro’s continuing efforts to become a force in the entertainment world as well as toys.
Probably the biggest move was done last February, when Hasbro signed a strategic partnership with Universal Pictures. Under the terms of the deal, Hasbro will partner exclusively with Universal Pictures for feature films, with the exception of Transformers and GI Joe. The first movie from this deal will be released in 2010 or 2011, and Universal will release at least one film a year thereafter.
"This deal gives Universal access to some of the greatest brands in the world," explained Marc Shmuger and David Linde, Chairman and Co-Chairman of Universal, respectively. "Hasbro's portfolio of products has tremendous emotional resonance with children and adults. They offer an exciting opportunity for us to develop tentpole movies with built-in global brand awareness, which is a key component of our slate strategy."
"Universal's creativity and worldwide marketing and distribution strength make them the perfect partner," said Goldner. "Today's Hasbro is so much more than a traditional toy and game company, and this partnership is a powerful example of how we are offering our consumers new ways to enjoy unique and immersive experiences with our brands."
As part of its commitment to expanding its presence in the world of entertainment, Hasbro hired Lisa Licht as its new General Manager of Entertainment and Licensing; she is based in Los Angeles. In addition, in August 2007, Hasbro announced an agreement with Electronic Arts to develop digital games based on many of its properties across a variety of platforms. This May, Hasbro also announced it hired Marc Schneir as its new of Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Motion Pictures.
Schneir will serve as Hasbro's lead creative executive for feature films, focused on the Company's new six-year strategic partnership with Universal Pictures. Schneir will work closely with Licht
"Leveraging what we believe to be the best portfolio of brands in the children's and family entertainment business, our goal is to deliver more fantastic cinematic experiences, similar to what we did along with DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures with Transformers," said John Frascotti, Hasbro's Global Chief Marketing Officer. "Mr. Schneir is an incredibly talented industry veteran who will collaborate directly with filmmakers and writers to create extraordinary motion pictures. Together Lisa and Bennett will help elevate Hasbro to a whole new level in the entertainment industry."
"Hasbro has an extraordinarily rich and powerful portfolio of brands that has been entertaining millions of people all over the world for generations. It's very exciting to be joining the Company at a time when it is poised to make a significant impact in the entertainment industry by engaging consumers in new immersive ways," said Schneir.
Schneir comes to Hasbro with extensive industry experience acquired with filmmaker Robert Zemeckis' production company ImageMovers, where he has worked on a number of major motion pictures, including What Lies Beneath, Cast Away, The Polar Express, Monster House and Beowulf . In his most recent role as Vice President of Creative Affairs at ImageMovers Digital, he oversaw all of the company's creative development and worked on many Disney-related projects as part of the company's 10-year deal with The Walt Disney Company to produce Disney-branded motion pictures. He began his career at Creative Artists Agency.
Licht will look to further strengthen and deepen Hasbro's track record with the entertainment industry, while building upon the Company's strong and growing licensing programs around the world, leveraging Hasbro's brands in a wide variety of consumer-focused categories.
"Hasbro owns what we believe to be the best portfolio of brands in the children's and family entertainment business," said Goldner. "We are thrilled to bring Lisa on board - she is a highly-respected entertainment executive and the right person to lead our accelerated efforts as we look to create additional immersive brand experiences beyond traditional toys and games."
"The opportunity to join Hasbro during what I see as a very dynamic time for the Company is incredibly exciting," said Licht. "Hasbro's iconic and unmatched brand portfolio is truly a 'who's who’ when it comes to family entertainment, and I am eager to help the Company leverage these brands to their fullest potential."
Licht held several key senior-level posts at Twentieth Century Fox prior to her appointment as EVP, including Senior Vice President, Feature Film Promotions and Field Operations; and Senior Vice President, Marketing, Licensing and Merchandising.Prior to joining Twentieth Century Fox, Ms. Licht was Vice President of Marketing at Mattel, where she managed the worldwide Barbie doll line.
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