Walt Disney has announced that Disney Stores president Peter Whitford is stepping down and the firm is looking to sell its 548-store chain with locations throughout the U.S. and Europe. The retail stores have struggled in the past few years and U.S. stores have been downsized from 522 to 387. In 2001, Disney sold all its stores in Japan to Oriental Land Co., which runs the Tokyo Disney Resort theme park. However, Disney says it will hold onto the six Disney Stores in Hong Kong, in anticipation of the opening of Hong Kong Disney in the beginning of 2006.
London-based Entertainment Rights (ER), a leading media firm in the ownership and distribution of children's and family entertainment, has some good news and some bad news. ER has a distribution deal with Mattel Inc. for U.K. rights to the next Barbie CGI feature, BARBIE OF SWAN LAKE, but has also announced that Mattel will not be renewing the licensing agreement with ER subsidiary Link Licensing for the U.K. representation of certain non-doll Barbie merchandise and publications.
CinéGroupe has made its major theatrical project, P3K: PINOCCHIO 3000 available for licensing. Carlton consumer division is already onboard to handle licensing, theatrical, publishing, broadcast and video rights in the U.K.
In response to recent attention surrounding childhood obesity and lack of nutrition in school lunch programs, Nickelodeon and East Side Entrees have partnered to offer Nickelodeon-branded milk in school lunches nationwide starting in September 2003. The first character-licensed milk to be distributed nationally in schools, the milk cartons will display images from JIMMY NEUTRON, ROCKET POWER, THE WILD THORNBERRYS and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. Flavored nutritionally fortified packaged milk products will be for kids 6-11, and milkshakes will be available for kids 11-17.
McFarlane Toys has created adult collectible figures based on the second and third installments of THE MATRIX trilogy, THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. On May 15, 2003, Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, will release THE MATRIX RELOADED, the second installment of the Academy Award-winning blockbuster THE MATRIX. The third chapter, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, will be released later in 2003.
Nickelodeon, and Lowe's, one of the largest home improvement retailers, hope to paint kids rooms Nick pretty for spring, launching the Nickelodeon paint collection, one of a series of American Tradition Signature Colors available in Lowe's stores in the U.S.
Reckitt Benckiser Inc., a leader in household products, recently announced a $22 million national marketing campaign featuring THE JETSONS cartoon characters, to support the launch of the company's new Electrasol Gelpacs an innovative breakthrough in automatic dishwashing detergent. The campaign highlights "Dishwashing made for the 21st Century" with a game featuring Rosie the robotic maid and THE JETSONS family. Promotion marketing agency EastWest Creative developed, designed and is executing promotional support for the game including print advertising, on-pack communications, point-of-sale, direct mail and fulfillment.
The premise of the game is that life in the 21st century is catching up to THE JETSONS' maid, Rosie especially dishwashing. When the Electrosol Gelpacs prove you don't need a robot to get dishes that sparkle, Rosie feels that she is no longer useful and runs away. Consumers help THE JETSONS find Rosie and win "Astro-nomical" prizes in the Electrasol Gelpacs "Find Rosie and Win" instant win game.
Spellbound Entertainment has granted an international toy license for its new pre-school property, THE KOALA BROTHERS, to leading toy company Hasbro Inc. The deal covers key merchandise categories including plush toys, figurines, play sets and Play-Doh. Items will be available in stores next year following the show's premiere on the BBC later this year.
Breaking into a cool new licensing category, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS is available now in an Ice Cream Parlor line from Breyers. Now fans who dig SpongeBob can dig into a bowl of vanilla-flavored ice cream with a caramel swirl and chocolate cookie dough pieces shaped like SpongeBob and his friend Patrick. Joining SpongeBob SquarePants ice cream is the Ice Cream Parlor Creamsicle.
International toy and game company University Games has formed an alliance with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create a number of JUSTICE LEAGUE products, based on the popular DC Comics comic book series and Cartoon Networks hit animated show that includes the worlds most powerful superheroes: BATMAN, SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, GREEN LANTERN, MARTIAN MANHUNTER, HAWKGIRL and THE FLASH.
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS is making a splash at Burger King restaurants in a nationwide kids meal promotion. The Bikini Bottom Bunch characters are available as eight toys plus Burger King's Chicken Tenders will come in fun star and lightning bolt shapes. The promotion runs in conjunction with Nickelodeon's SpongeBob's Lost Episode event that culminates Friday, March 21, 2003 at 8:00 pm when Nick airs "The Sponge Who Could Fly" episode. The toys feature popular SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS characters based on the television cartoon, including SpongeBob Silly Squirter, Swing Time Patrick, Jellyfish Fields, Plankton Bubble Up, Squirt N' Whistle Squidward, Plush Shakin' SpongeBob, Karate Chop Sandy and Gravity Defying Gary. Each toy comes with a clue card containing a SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS character riddle. Kids can wade through the riddle, figure it out then log onto www.Nick.com to answer the riddle to get digital SPONGEBOB trading cards. They can also enter a sweepstakes to win an exclusive, at-home SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS party for 25 people! Partygoers will view the SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS "Lost Episode" on the winner's new large-screen television. This promotion will be featured in kid-directed advertising, in-restaurant communication, a birthday mailer to Big Kids Club members and a micro site at www.burgerking.com. Big Kids can go to the micro site for interactive activities, downloadable screensavers and information about the eight fun SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS character toys. Nickelodeon, now in its 23rd year, has built a diverse, global business that includes television programming and production in the U.S. and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 86 million households. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. For more check out www.nick.com. Burger King Corp. and its franchisees operate more than 11,400 restaurants in all 50 states of the U.S. and 57 countries and territories around the world, with 91% of BURGER KING(R) restaurants owned and operated by independent franchisees. Burger King, founded in 1954, is owned by the equity sponsor group comprised of Texas Pacific Group, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Bain Capital.
Following on the heels of last week's announcement that YU YU HAKUSHO is moving to Cartoon Network's Toonami Block on March 3, FUNimation announced at the International Toy Fair in New York City it has awarded JAKKS Pacific the master toy license for YU YU HAKUSHO in North America. JAKKS Pacific will manufacture action figures, accessories and playsets based on the popular series from Japan that follows the adventures of 14-year-old Yusuke Urameshi, and expects to have product hit retail shelves by Q4 2003, in time for the Christmas season.
Brown Shoe Company, Inc. has signed a licensing partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create four new footwear lines, featuring Looney Tunes characters Tweety and Taz, and the DC Comics super heroes, Superman and Supergirl. The launch of all four character lines is scheduled for the 2003 back-to-school season, and will include athletic and casual shoes, boots and slippers. Supergirl footwear will debut first, appearing at select retailers in spring 2003. Targeted to kids ages 3-7, the footwear lines will be available in children's sizes 9-3.
Tribune Entertainment and DIC have entered into an advertising sales and administrative alliance, where Tribune will exclusively handle all domestic barter sales activities, as well as oversee back room operational services, for DIC's domestic syndication division. Among the DIC properties for which Tribune will handle barter sales are DIC's programming blocks of FCC qualified educational and informational programming.
Toy manufacturer Hasbro, Inc. has scored a major coup in the licensing biz by extending its license with Lucas Licensing, Ltd., for the manufacture and distribution of STAR WARS toys and games for an additional ten years. Under the terms of the extension, the agreement is expected to run through 2018. The minimum guarantee payable to Lucas has also been reduced by $85 million to $505 million. Under its original 10-year deal, the minimum payment to Lucas was $590 million of which Hasbro has already paid $470 million.
Kidz Kraze International has been appointed licensee for THE SIMPSONS' inflatable figures, in a deal with FOX Licensing. In 2003, the company plans to launch the line of inflatables, including family members Homer, Bart, Marge, Maggie and Lisa, along with townspeople such as Mr. Burns, Krusty The Clown and Comic Book Guy. Kidz Kraze will feature THE SIMPSONS' inflatable figures at the New York International Toy Fair, February 16-19, 2003 in Room 554.
Sesame Workshop and Mervyn's department stores have entered into an exclusive agreement to bring merchandise featuring characters from SAGWA, THE CHINESE SIAMESE CAT, a PBS KIDS' series, to Mervyn's 264 stores. From January to March 2003, the retailer will feature SAGWA characters on children's products such as bedding, clothing, plush and watches. A percentage of the proceeds of all SAGWA merchandise sold will support Sesame Workshop educational programs around the world.
Marvel Enterprises and video game publisher Activision, Inc. have signed a multi-year extension for their current video game licensing agreements, expanding their strategic alliance. The expanded agreements grant Activision the exclusive rights to develop and publish video game products based on Marvel's comic book franchises SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR and IRON MAN through the year 2009.
FUNimation Productions, Ltd. has awarded JAKKS Pacific, Inc. the master toy license for DRAGON BALL, DRAGON BALL Z and the forthcoming DRAGON BALL GT. JAKKS will develop, manufacture and distribute action figures, action figure accessories and vehicles based on these animated series. The company, which acquired the license after original rights holder, Irwin Toy, Ltd., announced bankruptcy in early December 2002, signed a 3-year license for the DRAGON BALL brands and expects to show new products as early as the New York International Toy Fair in February 2003.
The animated adventures of MR. BEAN is heading to Scandinavia. The 26 x 30-minute series has been sold to SVT, Sweden and YLE, Finland by Fremantle International Distribution, which distributes both the original live-action series and the animated series. SVT will start to broadcast the series on December 23, 2002 and it will run through early February. The series launch date on YLE is still to be announced. MR.
The Eskimo that has had a place on the tail of all Alaska Airlines aircraft for over a quarter century is stepping down from one plane to make room for some popular Disney characters. Alaska Airlines has launched the "Spirit of Disneyland" Boeing 737-400 aircraft, which features the faces of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy painted on a bright blue background.
Following the Asian programming markets DICON / BCWW in South Korea and Asia Television Forum (ATF) in Singapore, Germany's EM.TV & Merchandising AG has reported strong sales of children's programming across Asia for both home video and broadcast. EM.TVs animation portfolio proved popular in China, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam. EM.TV sold television and home video rights of the second season of MAYA THE BEE and the first two seasons of TABALUGA to Kiet Tuong Advertising in Vietnam.
Tokyopop Releases Two New Cine-Manga Based On Disney Series. U.S. manga publisher TOKYOPOP continues its relationship with Disney with the release of two new Cine-Manga series for Disney's original television series LIZZIE MCGUIRE and KIM POSSIBLE. Each will launch as part of TOKYOPOP's developing Cine-Manga family, which currently includes CARDCAPTORS and the forthcoming AKIRA.
Raven Moon Entertainment, a producer of childrens programming based in Orlando, Florida, is offering U.S. network affiliates and independent television stations the opportunity to telecast up to six airings of 13 episodes of its preschool series GINA DS KIDS CLUB at no charge. In addition, Raven Moon will make participating stations profit participants in all licensing and merchandising revenue.