Entertainment Rights Plc (ER) has acquired worldwide publishing phenomenon, WHERE'S WALDO? Internationally, the popular character is known as Where's Wally? Through the deal with series creator Martin Handford, ER has audio visual, licensing and merchandising, publishing, live events and digital rights to the Where's Waldo? brand, worldwide in perpetuity. Handford will continue to create and publish the WHERE'S WALDO? picture books in their original format.
First published in 1986, WHERE'S WALDO? is one of the most recognizable children's characters in the world, with over 76 million books and collectable artworks sold worldwide, generating sales in excess of $159 million. The series of 60 pictorial puzzle books is based on searching and finding Waldo, always recognized by his iconic red and white striped hat. Published in more than 50 countries and translated into 26 languages, Where's Waldo? has grown into a global kids' brand and is most popular in key territories, including Europe, Japan and the U.S.
The WHERE'S WALDO? books are published by Candlewick press in the U.S. and WHERE'S WALLY? books are published by Walker Books in the U.K. WHERE'S WALDO? titles have hit the No.1 slot in the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list three times and, previously, held the record as the fastest selling children's book of all time (pre-HARRY POTTER).
The Where's Waldo? character has become a popular culture icon, making numerous guest appearances on primetime TV shows, including FRASIER, FRIENDS and THE SIMPSONS. Waldo was also featured on the front cover of the 1,000th edition of ROLLING STONE magazine as one of the cultural icons of the last 40 years.
ER sees Where's Waldo? as a unique brand presenting significant opportunities for expansion into the multimedia category, offering unlimited potential for launch onto new platforms including web, software, mobile, handheld consoles for entertainment, gaming, education, interaction and competition. ER will create new animated and live-action content with multiplatform application, expected to launch worldwide in 2008/2009.
The acquisition of Where's Waldo? follows ER's recently completed purchase of leading U.S. media company, Classic Media. Waldo joins ER's growing portfolio of iconic kids and family characters, including Postman Pat, Lassie, Rupert Bear, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Basil Brush Gerald McBoing Boing and the Little Golden Books brand.
Jane Smith, ER group commercial director, said, "We are delighted to have secured the rights to the global publishing phenomenon, Where's Waldo? We believe that in today's increasingly pervasive digital environment, the interactive nature of the Where's Waldo property gives us a huge opportunity to develop the character outside of publishing into a multi-media brand. With ER's expertise in building and reinvigorating brands, we are confident that we can expand this publishing sensation into a significant global brand."
Where's Waldo? creator Handford added, "I am delighted that Waldo can now be found among Entertainment Rights' happy family. Characters such as Postman Pat and Rupert Bear are perfect companions for this next and most exciting stage of the 'Where's Waldo?' adventure. Entertainment Rights has both the integrity and experience needed to provide Waldo, Woof and chums with a solid commercial platform for continued success and development. I am thrilled to have found such a safe and nurturing environment from which Waldo can set off on his ever more adventurous travels!"
ER (www.entertainmentrights.com) is one of the U.K.'s leading specialist media groups focused on the ownership of high quality children's and family programming, characters and brands. This includes rights to global brands, such as Mattel's Barbie, Scholastic's Clifford, Hasbro's Transformers, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Felix the Cat. Since 1999, when ER owned rights to 39 episodes of programming, ER's library has grown to circa 8,700 episodes of high quality children's and family characters and brands. This includes certain rights to global brands, such as Mattel's Barbie, Scholastic's Clifford and Hasbro's Transformers ER's wholly owned subsidiary Tell-Tale Prods., created and produced THE TWEENIES, one of the U.K.'s most successful pre-school brands.
In Jan. 2007, ER acquired Classic Media, owner of an extensive portfolio of children's and family characters and brands, including Lassie, Underdog, The Lone Ranger, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Big Idea Prods. Inc., producer and creator of the award-winning VEGGIETALES series of programming which, to date, has sold more than 50 million home videos.