07/23/14: Animation biz looking UP in China; Care Bears coming to the comics; Stone Newman’s a Genius


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 23, 2014, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Things are looking UP in the Chinese animation market. Just ask Trevor Lai, whose Shanghai-based UP Studios is on the fast track to producing original family animation. Lai plans to bring to the U.S. and hey, while he’s at it, the world. Lai describes UP as “a combination of Silicon Valley and Pixar,” developing movies, TV series and even books, but also quicker-to-market apps like its first hit, BOOMiGram, which enables users to layer emoticons over video. The app already piqued the interest of Apple, which featured it in a cross-China tour of flagship stores. “We’re working on longer-term projects, but we can also create products that can hit the market quickly like Silicon Valley does… and iterate, iterate, iterate,” he tells CynKids. Here’s what else is on Lai’s mind.

Shifting dynamics in Chinese animation
The industry used to be driven by production and was bustling with work on shows the U.S. and Europe would send over. You’d see an entirely Chinese team animate an entirely French cartoon. Now, for the first time, we’re seeing a drive toward a real domestic industry, and it’s been [driven] by costs. The salaries of employees across the board have double and tripled. Production work has shifted to other markets. Thailand, Vietnam and India have competitive outsourcing and the industry here shrank. We started to notice a lot of production houses becoming IP studios. Back in 2008 there was a lot of Kung Fu stuffKung Fu Rabbit, Kung Fu Squirrel, because of the success of Kung Fu Panda. If Transformers are hot, you see a ton of transforming cars. It made me say, what is this market going to need going forward as the audience becomes more sophisticated?

The Secret to creating hit global properties
A lot of it comes down to storytelling. There are a lot of shows that have been done for the domestic [Chinese] marketa lot of morality tales–that don’t travel well. They don’t really take the viewer on a journey or cause them to imagine.

So, Oriental DreamWorks–good or bad for UP?
As a fan, it’s really exciting. From a business standpoint, you have to be aware of these giants coming in and taking up significant market share and working with the most powerful domestic partners with access to sales networks that a startup studio wouldn’t have. So we definitely have to contend with that. At the same time, they have an existing model and legacy properties that are already established. If you think about it, Pixar was not the first animation studio to come around. Technology had a huge part to do with how they were able to stand out in the marketplace. When Toy Story came out, the press was about how the storytelling was unique. At the time, Disney already had a business model, the market was mature, but there was an opening at the rim for an original upstart. We have a unique niche. We’re completely homegrown, with original characters and stories.

The BOOMiGram boom
It’s Instagram meets Disney, where you can take a video and add CG animation on top. We created an app and within six months we approached Apple in China and basically they said, “If you can make it, we’d love to support it.” Two months later, I was presenting in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. In China, we have the opportunity to start exploring the characters. We can change and iterate BOOMiGram; even within the past year we’ve redesigned it three, four and five times based on [feedback] from the Apple Store, based on school tours here.

Momentum with U.S. broadcasters
Our concepts are attracting a lot of interest and with our ability to scale up to demand, the number of conversations with U.S. broadcasters has increased a lot. The No. 1 question is, “When can you deliver 54 episodes, 104 episodes?” The orders in China are much larger than in North America, that’s been the trend.


Why are Cartoon Network Digital senior director of user experience Beau Teague, Comedy Central VP, programming & promotional strategy Rob O’Neill, Disney Media Sales & Marketing VP of sales Eric Vincent, Scholastic Media president Deborah Forte and Subway head of marketing development Michelle Cordial all gathering in NY on Sept. 8? They’ll be joining other top youth media execs at the Cynopsis Kids Business Summit. Come learn how to maximize kids’ and teens’ loyaltyand your ROI, plus hear from DreamWorks’ head of television Margie Cohn, our morning keynoter, and environmental activist Philippe Cousteau, a host on the new Fox Saturday morning lineup. Kids Summit details here: http://www.cynopsiskidssummit.com

Southwest Airlines is adding Cartoon Network programming to the carrier’s inflight entertainment portal, which streams free live television programming to wifi-equipped devices via Dish.

Headed to San Diego Comic-Con? Among the many delights swirling around the event, Nickelodeon is taking pitches for potential show pickup.

Thomas & Friends are taking to the Internet. In celebration of the tank engine’s 70th anniversary, the brand is calling upon the community from crowd-source platform Tongal to come up with ideas and videos for a documentary focused on the brand’s past, present and future (http://tongal.com/project/ThomasDocumentary).


Disney Television Animation is developing a Haunted Mansion special for Disney Channel and Disney XD inspired by the Disney Parks attraction, with illustrator Gris Grimly onboard to exec-produce with Scott Peterson executive producing and Joshua Pruett (both of Phineas and Ferb) consulting producing and writing. The studio is also busy developing series including:

* Billy Dilley’s Super Duper Subterranean Summer, from Aaron Springer (Mickey Mouse shorts and SpongeBob SquarePants).
Synopsis: Summer break takes an unexpected turn when Zak and Marsha end up stuck in uncharted land at the center of the earth with an eccentric classmate.

* Very Important House, from Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) and character designer Jenny Goldberg (Rick and Morty, Bravest Warriors)
Synopsis: 11-year-old Frolie moves into the Very Important House and suddenly finds herself in the role of caretaker of the universe.

* Douglas Furs, from former Sub Pop Records art director Jesse LeDoux and actor/writer Matt Olsen (Sly Cooper).
Synopsis: Deep in the woods exists the thriving animal community of Douglas where Barry the bear, the world’s least-handy handyman, takes it upon himself to fix all the town’s problems.

And a short-form project:
* Future-Worm!, from Ryan Quincy (South Park and IFC’s Out There).
Synopsis: A boy creates a time machine lunch box and befriends a fearless worm from the future.


FXX is making the most of its landmark The Simpsons deal. Starting Tuesday, Sept. 2, the animated comedy will air in fringe, primetime and late-night dayparts on weekdays and weekends, with themed mini-marathons from 4-8p leading into Sunday’s 8p broadcast on Fox. FXX is also launching “Simpsons World,” featuring branded content through SimpsonsWorld.com and handheld/connected devices via FXNow, in October; viewers will be able to access every episode, and curate personalized playlists. As previously announced, the net will air 25 seasonsthat’s 522 eps-in a row, 24 hours a day for 12 days starting Thursday, Aug. 21.

Little Battlers eXperience (LBX), produced by Dentsu Entertainment in association with Rollman Entertainment and based on the animated Japanese franchise, will make its U.S. debut on Nicktoons Sunday, Aug. 24, at 10a ET, after an intro at San Diego Comic-Con. LBX follows the adventures of miniature customizable robots and the kids who interact with them. Bandai America is on board as a licensing partner and Dentsu is seeking additional partners in all licensing and merchandising sectors. 

On Aug. 1 Disney Channel will premiere the latest Tales from Radiator Springs short–The Radiator Springs 500 ½–featuring characters from Disney-Pixar’s Cars.


Cynopsis Kids Business Summit
Monday, September, 8th 2014 | Yale Club NY

At the Crossroads of Traditional, Digital & Social Tools, You Will Learn How to Maximize Revenue & ROI in the Kids & Teen Space

For more information & to register, visit our website:

Questions? Please contact pete@cynopsis.com at 203-899-8483.


Disney Club Penguin is grooving with its annual Music Jam event, where penguins inspired by Disney music stars waddle around the virtual world. This year’s fun features a new musical cruise ship, and the ability for players to make their own music with the new SoundStudio. Featured artists include DJ Cole Plante, Zendaya, Sabrina Carpenter, Violetta and Cadence.


FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment’s Tree Fu Tom is hitting the stage. Premier Stage Productions is transforming the preschool series into a 90-minute live show to run in theatres across the UK in 2015. It airs on Sprout in the US, and CBeebies in the UK.

Spain-based production company Imira Entertainment inked a deal for worldwide distribution rights (excluding Austria and China) to Austrian live-action series Tom Turbo and Tom Turbo, The Movie. Imira also notched Latin American rights to the film The Turboosters and Latin American and Italian rights to the series YooHoo & Friends.


Comics Lion Forge Comics is developing comic books based on three big AG Properties: Care Bears, Madballs and Disney XD animated series Packages from Planet X. The new comics will to be developed under Lion Forge’s all-ages imprint, ROAR Comics. Lion Forge has also created comic complements for Saved By The Bell and Punky Brewster.

Hoho Rights appointed Active Merchandising to represent its preschool property Cloudbabies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The appointment follows the announcement that ARD and ZDF’s children’s channel KiKA has acquired 52 episodes of the CG animated series, to be broadcast in the region later in 2014.


Genius Brands International appointed Stone Newman to the newly created post of President, Global Consumer Products. Newman will work with retailers and licensees to build comprehensive consumer products programs for each of the company’s brands, including Baby Genius, Secret Millionaires Club, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 (SLAM 7) and Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab. Newman joins Genius from Art + Science International, a boutique licensing agency he founded.

Canadian animation studio Rainmaker Entertainment appointed former MGM exec Steve Hendry to the Board of Directors. Hendry joins Rainmaker’s current Board of Director’s Tim McElvaine, Craig Graham, Jeff Sackman and Patrick Ryan. Hendry currently serves as advisor to several media companies, as well as a visiting Professor at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Rainmaker’s first feature film, Escape From Planet Earth, was distributed by The Weinstein Co.


Top 10 Basic Cable Ratings for the week of July 14-20, 2014

K2-11 Total Programming Day

K2-11 Prime (Monday  Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K2-11  (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

K6-11 Total Programming Day

K6-11 Prime (Monday  Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K6-11  (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

K9-14 Total Programming Day

K9-14 Prime (Monday  Sunday 8-11p.m.)

K9-14  (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Source: Disney from Nielsen Media Research National MIT, ranked on coverage ratings
Viewing Type: Live + Same Day

K2-11  Top 10 Programs for the week of July 14-20 , 2104
7/17/14/Sam & Cat/NICK/7:30-8p/1850
7/17/14/Sam & Cat/NICK/7-7:30p/1542
7/18/14/Girl Meets World/DSNY/8:30-9p/1424
7/17/14/Tinker Bell: Secrets of the Wings/DSNY/10:30-11:50a/1409
7/15/14/The Little Mermaid (movie)/DSNY/10:30a-12p/1316
7/17/14/Kids’ Choice Sports/NICK/8-9p/1289
7/16/14/Disney Mickey Mouse Short/DSNY/9:20-9:30p/1286

K6-11  Top 10 Programs for the week of July 14-20, 2014
7/17/14/Sam & Cat/NICK/7:30-8p/1463
7/17/14/Sam & Cat/NICK/7-7:30p/1183
7/18/14/Girl Meets World/DSNY/8:30-9p/1101
7/17/14/Kids’ Choice Sports/NICK/8-9p/1069
7/17/14/Austin & Ally/DSNY/10-10:30p/965
7/20/14/Liv and Maddie/DSNY/11:30p-12a/963
7/14/14/Liv and Maddie/DSNY/11-11:30p/961
7/18/14/Dog With A Blog/DSNY/8-8:30p/961
7/17/14/Kids’ Choice Sports/NICK/9-9:30p/960

Source: Turner Research based on Total US Television Universe of 115,800,000 homes.

Weekend box office estimates for the 10 top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for July 18-20, 2014:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(20th Century Fox) PG-13 $36 million (weekend) $138.95 million (2-week cume)
Planes: Fire and Rescue (Disney) $18 million (weekend) $18 million (1-week cume)
Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) PG-13 $10 million (weekend) $227.15 million (4-week cume)
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation) PG $3.8 million (weekend) $160.67 million (6-week cume)
Maleficent (Disney) PG $3.3 million (weekend) $228.37 million (8-week cume)
Earth To Echo (Relativity Media) PG $3.26 million (weekend) $31.98 million (3-week cume)
America: Imagine the World Without Her (Lionsgate) PG-13 $1.73 million (weekend) $11.47 million (4-week cume)
Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $1.11 million (weekend) $96.62 million (7-week cume)
The Fault in Our Stars (20th Century Fox) PG-13 $800,000 (weekend) $121.58 million (7-week cume)
X-Men: Days of Future Past
(20th Century Fox) PG-13 $700,000 (weekend) $230.47 million (9-week cume)


2014 Cynopsis Digital Model D Awards
The Best in Online Video Content & Advertising

Entry Deadline: August 8, 2014
Late Submissions: August 15, 2014
Awards Event: November 13, 2014 (NYC)

Visit our website for additional information on:
Who Should Enter, How to Enter, Eligibility Period, Categories, Deadlines, Sponsorship Opportunities, Contact Information and FAQ’s.


Answer to last week’s Trivia Question: Which celebrity has won the most Kids Choice Awards? Will Smith Kudos to: Alison Hill, Turner Broadcasting, Atlanta; David Stern, BARD Entertainment, NY; Pat Brady, CESD, LA.

Today’s Trivia Question: What’s the first Planet of the Apes to be filmed in 3D? Email cathy@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Cheers — Cathy Applefeld Olson
Cathy@cynopsis.com for
Cynopsis Kids!

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