Monday, April 15th, 2013

Cynopsis: Kids!

Good morning. It’s Monday, April 15, 2013, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Today’s Top Headlines
We’ve got kids news covered for you daily during Upfront season…

Kids shows including My Little Pony, Pound Puppies and Transformers Prime are now available to Netflix’s U.S. subscribers via a new multi-year deal between the online subscription service and Hasbro Studios. And more content, including Transformers: Generation 1 and G.I. Joe: Real American Heroes, is headed to the service later this year. The deal, which also marks the first time Hasbro content will be streamed via Netflix in Canada, extends the existing relationship between Hasbro and Netflix first struck in 2012. All Hasbro content is included in the Netflix “Just For Kids” section, designed for children 12 and under. “This is a big step forward with our all screen strategy,” Hasbro Studios president Stephen Davis said in a statement.

What’s cute, colorful and bound for renewed global success? DreamWorks Animation has acquired the intellectual property for the iconic Troll franchise from Dam Things of Denmark, with plans to introduce the brand to a new generation. To lead the charge, the studio is bringing in American Girl veteran Shawn Dennis as head of brand development to cultivate the franchise. The acquisition, facilitated by the CDM Company, appoints DreamWorks the exclusive worldwide licensor of merchandise rights for the dolls with the exception of Troll birthplace Scandinavia, where Dam Things retains the license. The Troll doll phenomenon was born in 1959 when Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam carved a doll for his daughter based on the legendary Scandinavian troll.

Walt Disney Co. confirmed it is laying off about 150 employees in the marketing and home entertainment divisions of its film studio. “As part of an ongoing review to ensure that the studios’ operational structure and economics align with the demands of the current marketplace, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our staffing levels in several divisions of the studio,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement

Boomerang, Turner’s nexus of classic animated programming, is offering up a Captain Planet bonanza in celebration of Earth Day. The April 22 marathon features 36 episodes of the series (that’s 18 hours worth!), which follows five young Planeteers from five different continents who fight to save the earth from a variety of polluting perpetrators, beginning at 6 a.m. Included will be the episode “A Hero for Earth,” the pilot from the series that cable pioneer Ted Turner created in 1990 with DIC Enterprises to help augment young people’s awareness of environmental issues.


The Power Rangers will be defending the world against the evil Warstar aliens in a new game for the Nintendo DS, based on their popular Nickelodeon series Power Rangers Megaforce. The game, from Namco Bandai Games America, will be available in North America and Latin America this fall. To enhance the experience, players can scan official Power Rangers Megaforce Morpher Cards to power up within the game, and can use the Nintendo 3DS camera to take a photo and watch themselves morph into their favorite Ranger in the game.


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Penguin Children’s is acquiring both physical and ebook publishing rights for three years for PopCap Games’ global video game phenom Plants vs. Zombies. The first books–Plants vs. Zombies Official Guide, The Official Sticker Book and the Plants vs. Zombies Joke Book–will publish in August 2013. The Plants vs. Zombies game has been downloaded more than 120 million times across various platforms worldwide. The PopCap deal is the latest in a line of tie-in acquisitions that include Angry Birds, Moshi Monsters and Skylanders for the Penguin Children’s Group.


Hallmark Channel is in Atlanta to shoot civil rights era film The Watsons Go to Birmingham, based on Christopher Paul Curtis’ 1995 historical fiction novel and slated to air on the net in September. The movie, created by Nikki Silver and Tonya Lewis Lee, Spike Lee’s wife (who wrote the script and spent nine years trying to get it to air), is told through the eyes of a 12-year-old whose family drives from Flint, Mich., to visit their grandmother in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963–the same year the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed and the fight for civil rights ratcheted up. Anika Noni Rose (DreamGirls), David Alan Grier (In Living Color), Skai Jackson (Jessie), LaTanya Richardson, Wood Harris, Bryce Jenkins, and Harrison Knight star.


Nicktoons U.K. today launches two new shows– Robot & Monster and Rocket Monkeys and unveils new branding on TV and online touting the network as the premier destination for animated kids comedy. On air, look for the new tag line “100% toons* (may contain nuts)” in a series of 30-second animated promos that showcase leading Nicktoons properties like SpongeBob SquarePants, Penguins of Madagascar and Fairly Odd Parents. On, fans now can rearrange the site at any time by pulling a lever marked ‘Don’t not pull’, and can create their own Nicktoons promos combining program clips with special effects.


PBS is doing the math. Year-to-date financial results April 9 turned up a net income of $22 million, rather than the estimated $100,000 net loss anticipated in its fiscal 2013 budget. Among the factors contributing to the 2013 windfall were ancillary revenues from PBS Kids’ properties, along with higher income from PBS Distribution, short-term investment gains and more overhead reimbursements from grants.


MGA Entertainment is using its Bratz brand to promote a decidedly “unbratty” idea. The company on May 1 will launch the nationwide advocacy campaign Real Bratz, aimed at inspiring girls to think outside the box in their academics, career and community service. Real Bratz will spotlight girls and young adults who seek to make a difference in fashion, the arts, social evolution, government and business by inviting them to send their stories and photos to the campaign’s official web site, where they can be shared with girls across the country and have an opportunity to become part of a Real Bratz media tour.  Messages of empowerment also will be placed on the Bratz site and other social networks including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. First introduced in June 2001, Bratz has amassed a roster of more than 500 licensees.


Those clever tech geeks at the University of California, San Diego, have come up with a cool way to engross young students in the art of video game programming. UCSD researchers created a game, CodeSpells, where players must write Java code to create magical spells, reports Wired. Part of a research project, the game was developed to enable kids to learn game programming in nontraditional ways. The researchers tested Codespells on a group of 40 girls ages 10-12, aiming to teach them programming concepts such as “for-if” statements and loops. According to the researchers, the girls not only figured out how to use code to manipulate the game, they also found creative solutions to problems. Most importantly, the students enjoyed the game and wanted to keep playing it.


Weekend box office estimates for the 10 top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for April 12-14, 2013:

42 (Warner Bros.)  PG-13  $27.25 million (weekend)  $27.25 million (1-week cume)
Scary Movie 5 (The Weinstein Co.)  PG-13 $15.15 million (weekend)  $15.15 million (1-week cume)
The Croods (20th Century Fox) PG $13.2 million (weekend)  $142.52 million (4-week cume)
GI Joe: Retaliation (Paramount) PG-13  $10.8 million (weekend) $102.43 (3-week cume)
Jurassic Park (Universal) PG-13  $8.82 million (weekend)  $31.92 million (2-week cume)
Oz the Great and Powerful (Disney) PG $4.9 million (weekend)  $292.44 million (6-week cume)
The Host (Open Road) PG-13  $2.4 million (weekend)  $23.44 million (3-week cume)
Life of Pi (20th Century Fox) PG  $237,000 (weekend)  $124.28 million (21-week cume)
Snitch (Lionsgate) PG-13 $147,000 (weekend)  $42 million (8-week cume)
Hansel and Gretel (Paramount)  PG-13  $100,000 (weekend)  $55.59 million (12-week cume)


Toy entrepreneur Jeremy Padawer is joining Michael Rinzler as co-president of Wicked Cool Toys. An industry veteran with 15-plus years experience, Padawer most recently was EVP, marketing and new business development for JAKKS Pacific.

Answer to Yesterday’s Trivia Question:
What city does PBS Kids’ Arthur live in? Elwood City. Kudos to: Stephen Kelley-9Story Entertainment/Toronto.

Today’s Trivia Question: What year did PBS Kids debut?  (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Cheers — Cathy
[email protected] for Cynopsis Kids!

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