Sterling Goes to the Movies
Sterling Publishing’s children’s division is delving into its first-ever movie tie-in program with Rango, a 3D-animated film scheduled for a March 2011 release from Paramount. “We look at a lot of TV and movie properties, and a lot feel like they’re hit or miss,” says Frances Gilbert, v-p, publisher for the children’s division. “This felt like a home run. We wouldn’t dip our toe in if we didn’t feel strongly about it.”
A number of factors contributed to the decision to take on the license. “The movie is flat-out funny, and the humor really caters to all different levels of understanding,” Gilbert explains. “Rango, played by Johnny Depp, is a chameleon that suffers an identity crisis. It’s an instantly appealing character, both physically and in what he stands for.” She adds that the film also has wide appeal in age and gender. “Rango is a male, but there’s a vulnerability to him that girls would identify with, and there’s also a gorgeous girl character [a primate called an aye-aye], played by Abigail Breslin.”
Sterling will introduce four Rango titles, including an 8x8 picture book, a 48-page paper-over-board movie storybook, a level 2 early reader and a movie novelization, on January 28. It is talking to other licensees about the possibility of cross-promotions. Other Rango partners include Palace Press International for an art book, Eaglemoss for a mini-magazine with figurines, American Greetings for greeting cards, and Inkology for school supplies, among many others.
Gilbert says Sterling would consider other movie licenses in the future. “We’d love to do more. It’s exciting for our sales, marketing and publicity departments. But if anything, it’s about picking the right license. We’re not just jumping into it headlong.”
A Pixar Picture Book from Chronicle
This past summer, Chronicle Books published Day & Night by Teddy Newton, based on the short film of the same name, which Newton directed, that was shown prior to Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 in theaters. Chronicle has published all of Pixar’s “Art of” books, including The Art of Pixar Short Films, but this is its first foray into Pixar-related picture books. (Random House has published Little Golden Books tied to some of Pixar’s shorts, including Newton’s Presto!)
Newton had always envisioned the story as a picture book as well as a film, according to Amelia Anderson, senior designer for Chronicle’s children’s division, and the publisher was enthusiastic about working with him. “It was kind of a no-brainer,” Anderson says. The staff got a sneak peak of the finished film and knew it had potential for a children’s book, as well as having collectible appeal. “Lots of people are just die-hard fans of Pixar,” she notes, adding, “The film has a really graphic quality.”
After a visit to Pixar in Emeryville, just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco-based Chronicle, to see the behind-the-scenes process of making a film, Andersonand editor Andrea Menotti spent an intensive day with Newton at Chronicle’s office. They storyboarded the book using film stills, early sketches and new sketches done on the spot. “Teddy’s pencil would circle over the blank page for a while as a warm-up, then in about four seconds he would have a scene that conveyed the emotion and a fully rendered character,” Anderson recalls. The final book includes layouts that mirror the film but that Newton recreated in a rougher, line-drawn look, as well as some new scenes.
The outline of the adapted story was created that same day; the film relies on graphics and sound effects but has no dialog. “With the book, there was no sound or movement to help the story progress,” Anderson notes. “It had to be restructured and readjusted, while staying true to the vision of the film. It’s about the delight and discovery of going outside of one’s comfort zone.”
You’re a Crafty One, Mr. Grinch
Dr. Seuss Enterprises is partnering with Colorbök on a line of arts and crafts available exclusively at Michael’s. The products will launch during the holiday season with endcaps featuring Grinch products, followed by a dedicated section—along the lines of what Michael’s has done with American Girl and Crayola—featuring multiple Dr. Seuss characters starting in spring 2011.
“I’ve always felt that the crafts area is a good fit with Dr. Seuss, which is all about imagination and empowerment,” says Susan Brandt, DSE’s president of licensing and marketing. “When we met with Colorbök, it was clear we had a shared vision for what the Dr. Seuss brand in arts and crafts should be. Michael’s is the leading chain and they offered us the commitment to space and promotion that we wanted.” There have been a limited number of Dr. Seuss arts and crafts items on the market previously, but never a big program.
The line will include craft kits as well as separates, such as papers, and will target two age groups, 3-5 and 5-8. The packaging will not only be identified by age, but by the educational or developmental milestones—e.g., dexterity, ABCs, color coordination—each product reinforces. Items for younger children will be more tactile and teach skills such as how to use scissors, while items for older kids would feature more complex tasks, such as beading.
Nickelodeon Adds Partworks, Peter Rabbit
Nickelodeon Consumer Products signed a three-year deal with U.K.-based Eaglemoss Publishing Group to develop partworks and press collections across the globe (except in the U.S.) for more than 35 Nickelodeon properties. Partworks are finite series of magazine-like books on special interests, often packaged with a series of collectible items and sold through kiosks and news agents. Press collections are similar but distributed with newspapers or magazines. Eaglemoss operates in 24 markets, with the U.K., France and Italy its strongest territories.
There will be at least four new products per year, with the first being the Dora Little Cooks Collection, currently testing in the U.K. Each magazine contains stories, activities and recipes, as well as one piece of a cooking and picnic set. Eaglemoss’s existing licenses include Marvel, The Lord of the Rings, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In other Nickelodeon news, the network will develop and produce The Tales of Peter Rabbit. The TV series is based on the Beatrix Potter characters owned by Frederick Warne & Co., a division of Penguin, and licensed by Chorion. Nickelodeon also was named the licensing agent for The World of Beatrix Potter brand, along with the series, in the Americas and India; Chorion retains rights for the rest of the world. Frederick Warne, which publishes the classic books, will release Peter Rabbit TV tie-ins as well. The series is set to air in 2012.
Peanuts Worldwide (formerly United Media) signed THQ for a Fancy Nancy: Tea Party Time! videogame, released in September….Warner Bros. officially launched its global licensing program for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 of which will be released this November. Licensees include LEGO, Mattel and The Noble Collection, among many others…. Chorion signed a deal with Arby’s for a Mr. Men and Little Miss promotion involving an iPhone app that matches the consumer’s mood, as identified by a character, with a Value Menu item…. Universal Studios Partnerships & Licensing signed Dalmatian Press for Curious George coloring and activity books, art supplies, message boards, posters, and wallcoverings…. HIT Entertainment signed I Can Do That! to market Angelina Ballerina board games starting in fall 2011…. Author/illustrator Debby Carman signed Siena Entertainment as the licensee for interactive books on iTunes, based on her Bowzers and Meowzers brand, and Whimsical-Art.com for a line of nursery products and wall art. Her licensing agent is SupperTime Entertainment…. Paramount Licensing signed Pegasus Hobbies for War of the Worlds model kits…. Author and illustrator Todd Parr collaborated with Sesame Workshop on an animated film to help children face their fears, to be shown this season on Sesame Street…. Borders teamed with PBS Kids for a promotion, which included online content and in-store activities, tied to the new science show The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. The retailer also partnered with Build-A-Bear Workshop for a Christmas promotion that includes a Build-A-Bear book, Holly & Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure, and a companion video and toy…. Zonderkidz’ Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule app, from licensee Oceanhouse Media, debuted as the top-grossing application in the Books category.