Publishing properties are making news at the 32nd annual Licensing International Expo this week, with several licensors and licensing agents announcing new launches and new representation of book-based licensing programs.
Attendees and exhibitors were upbeat about the show’s first day on Tuesday, saying they were having productive meetings and learning about new properties. Many licensees were getting to know the new owners of properties that have recently changed hands, particularly those formerly owned by Chorion, including Olivia (now with Classic Media), Max and Ruby (Nelvana), and The World of Eric Carle (Joester-Loria Group).
Penguin, one of two publishing companies (along with Scholastic Entertainment) among the 370 total exhibitors, announced the launch of Penguin Licensing and Consumer Products. The new division brings all global licensing activities of Penguin-controlled properties, as well as acquisitions of licensed properties for books, into one division. In the past, Penguin’s U.S., U.K., and Australian offices had worked together on the acquisition of certain properties on an ad-hoc basis.
“We thought, licensing is licensing; let’s pull it all together so we can acquire globally and now license out globally,” says Lori Burke, director of Penguin Licensing and Consumer Products. She notes that Penguin recently acquired the videogame/toy property Skylanders from Activision for a global publishing program, adding, “Activision was so excited to see that global front we presented.”
Properties Penguin is offering for entertainment, digital, media, and merchandise licensing include Mad Libs – especially its newly relaunched adult series – Llama Llama, Corduroy, Shark Wars, and many others. SMC Entertainment just announced it is developing an animated TV series based on Penguin’s Ladybug Girl, and it has taken over licensing duties for the book-based merchandise program as well.
New book-based licensing initiatives announced this week to coincide with the show include Fifty Shades of Grey, which will be handled by master licensing agent Caroline Mickler of the U.K. and subagent CopCorp in the U.S., with planned products including lingerie, sleepwear, apparel, fragrance, beauty products, bedding, home furnishings, stationery, jewelry, and adult products. CopCorp is also launching a U.S. licensing program for Pippi Longstocking, focused on live-action photo art from four vintage feature films.
HarperCollins Children’s Books signed Jim Henson Productions to handle the first-ever full licensing program for Arnold Lobel’s Frog & Toad, with apparel, accessories, gifts, toys, home furnishings, and room decor among the items planned. Henson also is developing an animated feature film for the property. Meanwhile, Harper retained Established Brands as the licensing agent for Fancy Nancy, which previously was handled by Peanuts Worldwide (formerly United Media).
Agent Lawless Entertainment is launching a licensing effort for Michael Scott’s bestselling series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (published by Random House), as well as introducing to North America the first broad, multicategory licensing program for the Little Prince. And Moxie & Company is debuting a licensing effort for the works of author-illustrator Nancy Tillman, which it will extend into infant and toddler products, as well as Pretty Penny, a book series with a financial literacy theme.
Publishers walk the show floor as attendees are busy sifting through a wide variety of properties originating in the digital world, including videogames, virtual worlds, mobile apps, and online properties; many of these licensors have some of the biggest and showiest booths. Publishing is often one of the first categories signed for these properties and, this morning, agent Beanstalk Group announced that Egmont has acquired the rights to publish books and magazines tied to the virtual world MovieStarPlanet for all territories excluding the U.S.
Vintage properties, new artistic takes on classic brands, licenses celebrating anniversaries, and properties from Europe, Asia, and Latin America – many with more prominent booths than in the past – were among the other trends spotted at the show. See Monday’s print edition of PW for more licensing trends from the exhibit floor of Licensing International Expo.