Good morning. It’s Monday, April 23, 2012, and this your first early morning briefing.
Answering a few of our questions this week is Scott Helmstedter, Chief Creative Officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which includes the new SeaWorld Pictures. In his position, Helmstedter is responsible for developing attractions, shows and movies for the division, as well as overseeing creative and product development, design and engineering, entertainment, show production and consumer research. For SeaWorld Pictures, Helmstedter oversees the development, production acquisitions and distribution of both original films and partner-produced movies that focus on the nature. Previously, Helmstedter was Co-Founder and President of In Motion Entertainment. Prior to that he produced a wide range of entertainment and marketing products for companies including Disney and Universal Studios.
SeaWorld Entertainment, which includes the new SeaWorld Pictures, is diving into the world of developing, producing and co-producing, acquiring and distributing original kid/family targeted brand related content. Why is SeaWorld making this move now?
Through this expansion, our goal is to create transmedia experiences that entertain and inspire consumers and connect them with the power of our brands reaching them at home, on their mobile devices, and in our parks. Our company has a 50-year legacy of creating unique location-based entertainment that inspires people to connect with the world. It’s always been part of our long-term development plan to expand into other entertainment enterprises.
Will SeaWorld movies and TV shows star dolphins, whales and manatees?
We will create entertainment like no one else — blending imagination and nature in innovative new ways. There are clear touch points that are a natural for us: The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens combination covers both land and sea, creating opportunities to connect with marine animals such as whales and dolphins, as well as terrestrial animals such as cheetahs and elephants. Given the richness of the content in our parks – one of the world’s largest zoological collections, great show attractions, active rescue and rehabilitation program for animals in need, support for conservation and wildlife research worldwide, high-quality theming and ride attractions there is no end to the creative ways we can inspire and connect with people.
Tell us about the recently launched SeaWorld project with Litton Entertainment?
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Litton just this launched month Sea Rescue, a weekly TV series hosted by conservationist and Good Morning America weather anchor Sam Champion. The new show is broadcast nationally on Saturday mornings on most ABC affiliates. Sea Rescue showcases amazing stories of the rescue, rehabilitation and return to the wild of marine animals by SeaWorld’s team of dedicated veterinarians and animal care experts, as well as our passionate partner organization and the dedicated government authorities. And Sea Rescue is really making waves: The show is winning time periods in major markets and showing strong audience growth quarter-hour to quarter-hour.
Who is your target audience for the projects you are working on? Are they generally for kids and families?
We are exploring entertainment that appeals across a wide spectrum, families, children, nature lovers and thrill lovers. Some of our more immediate projects are focused on children ages 12 and younger and will be branded under the new “SeaWorld Kids” banner.
Who makes a good partner for SeaWorld Entertainment – either for production and distribution and/or on the licensing side?
We look for opportunities to partner with filmmakers and producers on projects that are similarly consistent with our brands and core values as a business. Our partners would share our goal of inspiring others to care for animals and the natural world, and also a passion for entertaining in fresh, imaginative and innovative ways. Our goal is to create transmedia experiences that entertain and inspire consumers throughout their life – reaching them at home, on their mobile devices, and of course at our parks.
How did you first become involved with SeaWorld? Have you always been interested in performing animals?
As a Southern California native, I was fortunate enough to go to SeaWorld San Diego as young child and still remember that first visit, particularly how moved and amazed I was by seeing killer whales and dolphins up close for the first time. Then, shortly after starting my production company back in 2000, my business partner and I were brought in as consultants for Busch Entertainment Corporation (now SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment). I became the managing producer for several new attractions and projects including the Blue Horizons dolphin show, which was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. That project really showed me the importance of up-close animal connections and the power that these animals and their human counterparts have within the entertainment medium to touch and inspire audiences to think differently about the world we all share.
It sounds cliche but I’m being sincere when I say that some people’s lives are changed by the emotional connection they have with the animals in our parks – that was clear to me both when I saw them as a child as well as in my role now, telling their stories.
You play the piano (playing since you were 6-years-old) and are a trained singer, in fact, you have a Bachelors Degree is in Music, and performed for many years in musical theater. Why did you move away from a professional life in music and theater? Do you still perform?
You’re giving away some of my secrets here! Performing will always be a passion and I will continue to do it whenever I can. After all, it’s in your blood, as artists in any medium will tell you. I’m fortunate enough now to be able to combine my talents and experience in a way that fulfills that passion yet is also a big part of my work. I’m a lucky guy!
What was your favorite TV show or cartoon growing up?
Even though we spent a lot of playtime time outdoors, I was a pretty avid TV watcher as a kid. That’s probably how I became so enamored with this business. Like most people my age, I grew watching all the old sitcoms: I Love Lucy, Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island but I also used to watch all the old movies–dramas, comedies, the big musicals which was a bit unusual for a kid. And we always tuned into The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night. Looking back, my favorite cartoons that stand out most were of course Bugs Bunny, Flintstones and Scooby Doo (I loved mysteries and still do). When I was very little my favorite was Casper the Friendly Ghost. My mom says I used to cry when the cartoon would end. Perhaps you shouldn’t include that part… !
Rich Ross has stepped down as Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, a position he has held since 2009. Disney has not announced who will head the studio. Prior to serving as Chairman, Ross was President/Disney Channels Worldwide. Ross joined Disney Channel in 1996 and grew the channel, and its sister channels and respective websites including Playhouse Disney (now known as Disney Junior) and Disney XD, domestically and internationally. He also oversaw Radio Disney. Prior to Disney, Ross helped launch FX Networks, and also held senior positions at Nickelodeon for several years.
4Kids Entertainment is looking to sell its “substantially all of [their] Yu-Gi-Oh! related assets” to KidsCo Media Ventures, a company that incorporated earlier this month in Delaware but appears to be related to Saban Capital Group (Power Rangers), for US $10 million, according to papers filed in the US Bankruptcy Court in New York, per Anime News Networks. The documents that were filed show that KidsCo has the same address as Saban Capital Group, as well as emails addresses that tie back to Saban. Under its bankruptcy plans, 4Kids will auction of its assets in early June 2012 (with a deal closing on June 30) to qualified bidders. As a “stalking horse bidder,” KidsCo sets the floor price for the bidding and has bidding protections, including a fee that must be paid to them by a winning bidder. 4Kids planned auction will also include the rights to Dragon Bal Z anime series, which includes 52 episode of the TV series and 4Kids’ rights to Dragon Ball Z Kai, as well as Cubix, among other titles, and assets.
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The Joester Loria Group, global master licensing agent for The World of Eric Carle, appoints Rocket Licensing to further the UK success of The World of Eric Carle brands. Rocket Licensing will focus initially on Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Rocket’s licensing program for The World of Eric Carle will emphasize Carle’s vibrant colors and popular characters to create new categories and extend the grow the products available in the UK. Carle has written and illustrated 70+ kid’s picture books, which have sold 110+ million copies worldwide.
Tonner Doll Company, a designer and manufacturer of collectible dolls and figures, has been granted the license to produce character figures based on the feature film The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games Tonner Character Figures will feature likenesses of the movie’s lead characters, Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne, in 16-17-inch tall dolls (1/4 scale) with multiple articulated joints for posing. Tonner Doll has created movie-based dolls and figures based on a number of movies including Harry Potter, Twilight, Pirates of the Caribbean and Gone with the Wind.
CopCorp Licensing enters into a social media deal with Boston-based digital company Bare Tree Media for cartoonist Jim Benton‘s It’s Happy Bunny. Bare Tree Media has been granted the rights to create and market It’s Happy Bunny branded virtual goods that will be offered for purchase via micro-transactions within social networks and virtual worlds such as Meez (www.meez.com), where the products are available now. Bare Tree Media is also working with other social gaming and mobile applications to expand availability of It’s Happy Bunny virtual goods in the coming months. Bare Tree Media also plans to develop It’s Happy Bunny Mobile Apps (for smart phones and tablets on Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Mobile platforms) and downloadable console content featuring It’s Happy Bunny (e.g., lite downloadable It’s Happy Bunny branded content for console network such as PS3, XB Live, Wii as well other platforms).
Spin Master Games and Imangi Studios are teaming up to launch Temple Run games, based on the popular iOS and Android games, to mass retail stores this fall 2012 with new games. In a global rights’ licensing agreement, brokered by Dimension Branding Group (DBG), Spin Master Games will feature Temple Run in traditional games, including card games and board games with electronic features. The Temple Run mobile game app has been downloaded 60+ million times on the iPad, iPhone and Android platforms.
The Hunger Games heads back to Imax theatres for a limited one-week run in North America from Friday, April 27 though Thursday, May 3, 2012. Imax Corporation will show The Hunger Games at 100+ of its digital theatres. Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games released in theatres on March 23, 2012, and has since earned $533 million in worldwide box office receipts, including $13.2 million from its original one-week run in Imax theatres.
Sharon Osbourne (America’s Got Talent) lends her voice to Mama Hook, Captain Hook’s spirited mom, in a new episode of Disney Junior‘s animated series Jake and the Never Land Pirates, premiering Mother’s Day weekend Saturday May 12 at 8:30a on Disney Channel. The episode, Mama Hook Knows Best, will also air the same day on Disney Junior channel at 11a, as well as during the channel’s Mother’s Day marathon the following day. On Friday, April 27, DisneyJunior.com will launch the new interactive game A Treasure for Mama Hook.
Japan-based Sony Creative Products (SCP) acquires the animated preschool series Gaspard and Lisa from UK-based Chorion. SCP plans to grow the property internationally. The terms of the deal were not announced. Based on books by author Anne Gutman and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben, Gaspard and Lisa, which currently airs in 30+ countries, has been managed by Chorion’s Silver Lining since 2005. SCP acquired the exclusive master license rights in Japan in 2008.
Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards Finalists have been announced! For a full listing of all the finalists, and to register for the June 7 Awards Breakfast in NYC click here http://www.cynopsis.com/events/kids-awards/ .
Weekend Box Office Estimates for kids/tweens/teens rated G, PG or PG-13; April 20-22, 2012:
Think Like A Man (Sony) PG-13 Opening Weekend $33.0m
The Lucky One (Warner Bros.) PG-13 Opening Weekend $22.8m
The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) PG-13 $14.5m-5 wk total $356.9m
Chimpanzee (Disney) G Opening Weekend $10.2m
The Three Stooges (Fox) PG $9.2m-2 wk total 29.4m
Titanic 3D (Paramount) PG-13 $5.0m-3 wk total $52.8m
Mirror Mirror (Relativity Media) PG $4.1m-4 wk total $55.2m
Wrath of The Titans (Warner Bros.) PG-13 $3.8m-4 wk total $77.1m
Lockout (FilmDistrict) PG-13 $3.1m-2 wk total $11.1m
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal) PG $1.7m-8 wk total $206.9m
Source: Rentrak (www.rentrak.com)
LeapFrog Enterprises‘ William K. Campbell, President/Americas Sales will retire from LeapFrog this June 2012, after 12 years with the company.
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Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: What pop band did Alexander Cabot III manage? Josie and the Pussycats. Kudos to: Jodi Feinstein-Majesco Entertainment Co./Edison, NJ; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NYC; Steve Behling-Disney Publishing Worldwide/White Plains, NY; Hank Bordowitz-The Bordowitz Media Werx/Ridgewood, NJ; Liz Murray-Turner Broadcasting/Chicago; Linda Morris-Hallmark/MO; Tom Boyd-WGN-TV/Chicago; Richard Quan-BSSP/San Francisco; Ted Biaselli-The Hub/Burbank; Sabrina Sparlin-CESD/LA; Brett Ashy-The Ashy Agency/LA; Vanessa Esteves-Nelvana/Corus Entertainment/Toronto; Anand Roy-The Walt Disney Company /India; Kelly Winger-Toronto Fringe Festival/Toronto.
Today’s Trivia Question: Jack Armstrong, The All American Boy was the inspiration to which primetime cartoon? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)
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Upfront 2012: Sports [May 15]
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