Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Cynopsis: Kids!

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, February 20, 2013, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Time Out With… Marvel’s Cort Lane
Cort Lane, Marvel VP, animation and production, is living his dream. He became a ComicCon devotee at age 10–“back when it was held in the basement of a hotel”–and today he proudly talks about his home nerd room, packed with action figures, original comics and other treasures. As Marvel prepares to unleash two new series on Disney XD this summer  “Avengers Assemble” and “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H” -here’s Cort, in his own words.

… Are superheroes still just for boys?
Honestly, yes. The audience varies depending on the platform, but the majority is boys. It gnaws at me a little, and I take personal pride at working hard to develop female characters.  It’s a little tricky. We are playing mostly to boys, so we have to stay true to our audience. We’ve found that if we make the girl characters cooler to the boys, it’s a really good way to introduce them in the superhero world and it opens up doors for girls. And a healthy dose of humor doesn’t hurt in making a show appealing to girls. We’re making strides.

… Second screens 
We’re waiting for the right concept and critical mass of our audience to be there. We’re very open to gaming, and we’ve started playing with interstitials at varying lengths that can give kids more information about the character. We have the Fury Files  like a secret dossier from Nick Fury – that give the inside scoop on each character. It’s taken off online and makes great interstitial content to air on TV. We ran them on Disney XD, promoted them on Facebook and they’re available on YouTube.

… Character flaws
Marvel characters work best when we exploit their flaws in the storytelling, and show when a hero overcomes them. It’s a lot of fun to watch a character’s arc; it makes you feel like you understand them and they aren’t just a costume. To tell a good story for kids is not just about good guys and bad guys smashing each other. You have to tell a story they can relate to. For Spider-Man, it’s about him making mistakes, and learning from them. It’s a lot like kids’ own challenges at school and how those relate to the bigger action in the story.

… Technology vs. content
 We don’t let the tech drive the creative, so we don’t design a show around a new technology breakthrough. What we do is use CG in ways that aren’t necessarily visible to the audience. The vast majority of the set, the weapons and the vehicles are in CG, then rendered and painted so they mask the animated look of the character; that way there isn’t a disconnect between the CG background and flat 2D character. In Ultimate Spider-Man, New York becomes a character in and of itself and makes the Spider-man world feel real and relatable.

… His most beloved superhero
Hawkeye. He’s been my favorite since I was 10 and I’m more than a little giddy that we’re now establishing him in the animated universe in Ultimate Spider-Man, and then as a lead in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. He has a very snarky, rebellious attitude I found appealing as a kid for some reason. He has no powers but he was able to hang with the Avengers. And purple is an unusual color. Usually superheroes are in primary colors, but the ones that are really interesting to me are in secondary colors. Their natures are a little more complicated.

(Time Out is a new Cynopsis Kids! monthly Q&A with a children’s entertainment thought leader. For the complete interview with Cort Lane, please go to

It’s a Done Deal

Monkey Business: Nickelodeon will debut Breakthrough Entertainment series Rocket Monkeys in the U.S. in spring 2013, followed by other markets. The animated series, produced by Breakthrough in association with Teletoon Canada and animation studio Atomic Cartoons, centers around two monkey brothers and their intergalactic antics in the name of space exploration.

DHX Media inked a VOD deal with Midwest Tape-owned digital platform HOOPLA. The three-year deal means that HOOPLA will carry 1,300-plus episodes of DHX Media content including Inspector Gadget, Busyworld of Richard Scarry, Caillou and Madeline in the U.S. and Canada. HOOPLA launched in 2012 and offers digital movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks, primarily from public content libraries.

International Programming Picks

Canada’s Bejuba! Entertainment scored global TV and home entertainment distribution rights, excluding Australasia, for the CGI animated series Jack.

Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific is ramping up marketing efforts around its Toonami superhero programming block in key markets including live events in Singapore and Manila, and an online competition in which the winner’s concept will be made into an animated clip and comic book.

Victory Kickoff, a new series from TYO Animations Studios distributed in Europe by Viz Media, debuts Feb. 20 in France on Disney XD.



2013 Cynopsis: Kids !magination Awards
Honoring the best in kids programming and marketing

Like the market it serves, the kids content business emanates
creativity. From the most outstanding achievements in programming
to the marketing and promotion that supports it, Cynopsis: Kids !magination
Awards honor the best in kids & tweens media.



DreamWorks Animation SKG and toy manufacturer Spin Master Ltd. are partnering up again. The companies signed an exclusive licensing deal for Spin Master to serve as worldwide master toy licensee for the DreamWorks Dragons franchise, including a television series and sequel to the original film. Spin Master Ltd. previously served as master toy partner for DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon.

Cartoon Network is expanding its presence in apparel-land for its series Regular Show and Adventure Time. Cartoon Network Enterprises signed three new licensing partners for Regular Show. Accessory Innovations will debut a line of kids backpacks, bags, and luggage; Underboss-Undergirl will unveil underwear and sleepwear; and High IntenCity will release a line of jewelry and hair accessories. Additionally, Fruit of the Loom joins the Adventure Time licensee crowd with plans to create a line of underwear kids that’ll launch in spring 2014. Bioworld, Buckle Down, Changes, High IntenCity, Mighty Fine, PS Brands/Planet Sox and Underboss-Undergirl all renewed their licenses for the show.

Online kids channel Toon Goggles is partnering with Aurora World Inc. for a promotional toy campaign featuring Aurora’s most successful brand, YooHoo & Friends. Fifty-two episodes of the YooHoo & Friends cartoon will join the Toon Goggles library beginning in March, and Aurora will include hangtags on its YooHoo & Friends plush animal line with a promotional code that can be redeemed for free extended access to the library.

Smurfs stickers, sticker albums, trading card games and trading card game albums are headed to Eastern Europe, Nordic, Spain and Portugal thanks to a new deal between E-max, Ink and Biplano. E-max also signed Clay Buddies for these territories and for GAS, Benelux and France.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment Consumer Products added three licensee partners for its animated series Matt Hatter Chronicles: Character World, for bedding and accessories; TDP Aykroyd, for children’s underwear and nightwear; and Pedigree Books, for annuals.

The full-length version of Little Airplane’s movie Meet the Small Potatoes, plus bonus content, will be released on DVD by NBC Universal. The TV movie debuted in mid-February on Disney Junior.

More Kids News

Fresh support for parent-child co-viewing, and against the role of TV as babysitter, comes from the new study “Modifying Media Content for Preschool Children,” reported in the March edition of Pediatrics. After six months, families with kids aged 3 to 5 years who replaced aggression-filled programming with “prosocial” and/or educational content and watched with their kids saw kids spend significantly less time on violent programming than they did at the start of the study. Additionally, the children demonstrated significantly less aggression and more prosocial behavior compared to those in a control group.

The Girl Scouts have finally gone mobile. The organization launched a Girl Scout cookie app for Apple iOS and Google Android smart phones that shows users how to buy cookies from scouts, describes all 16 cookie flavors and shows users how to find the closest cookie sales booth. I’ll take my Thin Mints to go, please.

By the Numbers

Due to the President’s Day holiday, ratings for Saturday morning and full week by kids demographic are not available for this week’s issue. They will return next week!

Weekend box office estimates for the 10 top-grossing kids/tween/teen movies rated G, PG or PG-13, provided by Rentrak for Feb. 15-17, 2013:
Escape From Planet Earth (The Weinstein Co.) PG  $21.04 million (weekend) $21.04 million (1-week cume)
Warm Bodies (Lionsgate) PG-13  $10.25 million (weekend)  $51.47 million (3-week cume) 
Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros.) PG-13  $8.93 million (weekend)  $8.93 million (1-week cume)
Lincoln (Disney) PG-13  $2.14 million (weekend)  $176.73 million (15-week cume)
Life of Pi (20th Century Fox) PG  $2 million (weekend)  $111.3 million (13-week cume)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Bros.) PG-13  $1.28 million (weekend) $300.16 million (10-week cume)
Wreck-It Ralph (Disney) PG  $1.13 million (weekend)  $185.86 million (16-week cume)
Les Miserables (Universal) PG-13 $1.02 million (weekend)  $145.68 million (8-week cume)
Amour (Sony Pictures) PG-13  $918,411 (weekend)  $4.14 million (9-week cume)
Parental Guidance (20th Century Fox) PG  $625,000 (weekend)  $75.29 million (8-week cume)

Executive Moves

Indie TV producer Beyond Entertainment named Michael Murphy acting GM of Beyond Distribution following the resignation of Fiona Crago to pursue further university studies.


Cynopsis: Kids! Webinar
Leveraging the Second Screen for the New Kids Market

Thursday * March 14, 2013 * 1:30-3:00 p.m. ET

Hosted by: Cathy Olson, Editor Cynopsis: Kids! along with panelists:
Elie Dekel – President, Saban Brands & Co-President, Vortexx
Stacy Isenhower – SVP, Programming & Scheduling at Cartoon Network
Anne Richards – Creative Director at No Crusts Interactive


Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: What are Timmy’s Godparents names in Fairly OddParents? Wanda and Cosmo. Kudos to: Mike Doyle-Spot On Media Consultants, LLC/Madison CT; Chris Devine Dailey-Simply Devine Marketing Group/Deposit NY; Jacki Zix-RR/NYC; Dennis Nance-Turner Broadcasting, Inc./Atlanta; Julie Stowell- Metadata/Queensbury NY; Heather R. Floore-CW33 – KDAF-TV/Dallas; Squirrel Rippley-Dark Horse Media/Tucson; Sindy Spackman-Nickelodeon/Burbank; Pat Brady-CESD/LA; Sabrina Sparlin-CESD/LA; and the great Richard Quan-BSSP/San Francisco.      

Today’s Trivia Question: What cartoon character first appeared on November 9, 1919 and held the title of world’s most popular for a few years until Walt Disney introduced the world to a certain mouse? (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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