HIT Entertainment has signed Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing as its first licensee in the U.S. and Canada for the CG-animated television series Mike the Knight. HIT announced last year that S&S UK would be the publisher for Mike the Knight in that country, where it airs on the BBC’s CBeebies network. As is the norm for Simon & Schuster’s multi-territory licensing arrangements, some of the U.K. titles may be adapted for the U.S. market, while others will be U.S. originals.
“It’s hard to find a really good preschool property for boys,” says Valerie Garfield, S&S’s v-p and publisher for novelty and licensed publishing. “This has that sense of whimsy, adventure, humor, and fun that makes a great show, and translates to books as well.”
S&S will act as the master publisher for the property, which is aimed at kids ages 3 to 5. The Simon Spotlight imprint will release story, picture, novelty, activity, and coloring books, as well as non-interactive e-books, starting in 2013. “It will be a pretty big launch for us,” Garfield says. “It’s one of those well-thought-out properties that has lovely, well-developed stories and a world that will captivate boys and bring them in. It’s a really rich world to mine for publishing.”
Mike the Knight is set during the Middle Ages; replete with dragons and Vikings, it features a young knight who goes on a mission in each episode, following in his father’s footsteps and adhering to the motto “Be a Knight, Do It Right.”
“Simon & Schuster has been extremely enthusiastic about the brand since we first showed it to them about a year ago,” says Stacey Reiner, v-p of HIT global brands, U.S. “They got it. They really understood the humor.”
Mike the Knight launched on Nickelodeon in February and Nick Jr. this month, and has aired on the Treehouse network in Canada since September. It is co-produced by HIT and Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio.
Reiner says that there has been a lot of interest from consumer products manufacturers for rights to apparel and other products. “The show has a great play pattern,” she says. No toy deal has been announced yet, but Mattel has owned HIT since October 2011.