NEW YORK, NY/DALLAS/TX (APRIL 30, 2004) –
At L!CENSING 2004 International, HIT Entertainment – a leading global producer and rights owner of timeless children’s properties – will showcase new programs and initiatives for its portfolio of brands, including Angelina BallerinaTM, Barney®, Bob the BuilderTM, RubbadubbersTM, Thomas & FriendsTM, and The Wiggles® (the latter is exclusively distributed by HIT in the U.S., UK and Canada). Show highlights include plans for The New Adventures of Bob the Builder TV series and consumer products as well as the 60 th Anniversary Celebration of Thomas & Friends, both scheduled to launch in 2005.
In addition, HIT is creating entertainment and licensing plans for The Jim Henson Company’s classic, award-winning family properties, including Fraggle RockTM, which celebrates its 20 th anniversary in ’05. On April 1, HIT and Henson announced a five-year global rights and production venture covering television, home entertainment and consumer products.
HIT Entertainment will build on its core franchises with exciting news in 2005. “We are thrilled to bring Bob the Builder to the latest generation of preschool children with a new television series and consumer products, set to debut in 2005,” said Jamie Cygielman, SVP of HIT Entertainment’s Brand Business Group. “Bob the Builder is a proven success around the world, with his ‘can-do’ spirit and positive message that ‘the fun is in getting it done.’
“Adding to the excitement, Thomas & Friends will celebrate its 60 th year in publishing in 2005. We’ll bring the brand to multiple generations through a 60 th Anniversary Celebration that will be developed across a range of platforms, including publishing, home entertainment, consumer products, live events and promotions. For each of our core brands, we have also created integrated events planned around signature home entertainment releases, as well as new promotional and licensing partnerships .”
Brand-by-brand highlights for HIT Entertainment’s family of properties are as follows:
Angelina Ballerina, the Little Star with Big Dreams, announces new partnerships to bring her positive, girl-empowering message to her audience. Angelina has strong roots in dance, so it is only fitting that she team up with two of the most important alliances in the dance world. First, Angelina has partnered with the prestigious ballet company, American Ballet Theatre (“ABT”) – and is appearing as “Co-Chairmouseling” at the ABT Family Gala in New York City in June. Angelina will continue charming live audiences at high-profile ABT events throughout fall ’04.
Angelina Ballerina has also teamed up with National Dance Week, debuting as “Children’s Spokescharacter” for the annual celebration in 2004.
This fall, the acclaimed, Emmy® Award-winning Barney & Friends® – a longtime favorite on PBS KIDS® – continues with an exciting season of newly released episodes. In addition, a fully integrated marketing campaign will drive consumer awareness for Barney broadcast, home entertainment and consumer products. Core brand messaging directed to parents will underscore Barney’s “whole child” developmental benefits, with the theme, Barney – a helping hand for growing children, carried across all communications vehicles, including PBS episodes, home entertainment, product packaging, retail promotions, direct mail, and advertising.
Product and programming highlights include:
Bob the Builder™
Bob the Builder, one of the most beloved preschool characters globally, will build on its success in 2005 with a new broadcast series created by HIT’s HOT Animation Studios in the UK. The New Adventures of Bobthe Builder will break new ground with preschoolers, presenting each episode as a complete story that also integrates with the others to build a continuing storyline. In addition, the episodic series contains a positive environmental message, and features Bob using natural materials and renewable energy sources. A complementary toy/consumer products line that ties thematically with the series will encourage young viewers to interact with Bob and his can-do crew during their stop-motion animated adventures. Highlights for the second half of ’04 include the following:
One of the top 10 preschool programs on commercial television, HIT Entertainment’s new animated series premiered in September 2003 on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr.®. The product roll-out continues this fall, with new home entertainment titles from HIT, as well as toys and books from lead licensees Hasbro, Inc., Scholastic and Simon & Schuster.
The launch of the new property will continue throughout summer and fall, and into ’05, with these highlights:
Bob the Builder™
Bob the Builder, one of the most beloved preschool characters globally, will build on its success in 2005 with a new broadcast series created by HIT’s HOT Animation Studios in the UK. The New Adventures of Bob the Builder will break new ground with preschoolers, presenting each episode as a complete story that also integrates with the others to build a continuing storyline. In addition, the episodic series contains a positive environmental message, and features Bob using natural materials and renewable energy sources. A complementary toy/consumer products line that ties thematically with the series will encourage young viewers to interact with Bob and his can-do crew during their stop-motion animated adventures. Highlights for the second half of ’04 include the following:
Thomas & Friends™
Celebrating its 60 th anniversary in 2005, the classic Thomas & Friends brand reinforces timeless life lessons that have been embraced by multiple generations. Thomas stories open up a world of imagination and discovery that allows children and parents to enjoy unique connections on every journey. Forever making tracks to great destinations, Thomas and his engine friends are full speed ahead this fall with the following trainload of activities:
On September 24, HIT will release a new Thomas & Friends home entertainment title, It’s Great to be an Engine. The new release will be available in multiple product configurations that include: two limited-edition DVD sets – one with a digipack fold-out Colorforms® playset ($16.99 SRP), the second with an on-pack wooden railway engine from RC2 Corporation (pricing TBD); a feature-filled DVD ($16.99 SRP); a limited-edition VHS with on-pack engine; and VHS (12.99 SRP). The integrated product and marketing campaign will feature cross-promotions with Thomas & Friends’ publishing partners (see below); customized retail promotions; and advertising in leading parenting magazines.
Thomas & Friends continues to move full steam ahead in the second half of ’04 with nine new Random House titles – for a combined total of 17 new books this year from Random House and Publications International. The brand and products are supported by continued cross-promotions between publishing and home entertainment.
Tomy will release 10 new products, including the TV-advertised Thomas & Bertie’s Great Race set, which includes a companion Random House book.
Products are rolling into stores from new Thomas & Friends licensees Spin Master (an Aquadoodle coloring activity product), Mega Bloks, Inc. and Little Tikes Company (a Thomas youth bed).
The Day Out With Thomas™ live family attraction will continue chugging into market areas around the U.S. during the second half of ’04 with 21 scheduled stops.
Thomas toy licensee RC2 has been nominated for a LIMA Award for Best Character Brand Licensee of the Year – Hard Goods for the Take Along Thomas die-cast train system.
Nominated for a prestigious LIMA Award for Entertainment Brand License of the Year, The Wiggles will be rocking everyone’s world this fall with an Aus-some promotion, The Great Wiggly, Giggly Giveaway, running from July 27 through December 31. Fantastic prizes will be awarded, including a real-life car, Wiggles bedroom sets, toys and videos. The sweepstakes will be promoted in two new direct-to-videos: Whoo Hoo! Wiggly Gremlins!, streeting July 27, and Santa’s Rockin’, available September 28. Both are suggested retail priced at $16.99 for DVD and $14.95 for VHS.
Adding to the fun this fall are the following highlights:
The lead item from toy licensee Spin Master is the Wiggling Dancing Guitar, which lets young fans play along to eight favorite Wiggles songs by pressing a character button – or plays and dances on its own! Spin Master will TV-advertise the Wiggling Dancing Guitar ($24.99 SRP) in fall ’04. Additional toys and musical products from Spin Master include a Dancing Keyboard ($19.99 SRP), Play Along Accordion ($14.99 SRP), and Western Dolls ($14.99 SRP each), dressed as The Wiggles® appear in Cold SpaghettiWestern, their recent home entertainment release. Spin Master has been nominated for a LIMA Award for Best Entertainment Brand Licensee – Hard Goods for the The Wiggles Musical Guitar.
The Wiggles’ successful publishing launch includes four titles hitting the Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists for 2003, and nearly 2 million books sold! The Wiggles will see eight new titles published in summer/fall ’04.
The Wiggles consumer products roll-out continues into the second half of ’04, with items from Little Tikes (battery-operated ride-on), LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (LeapPadTM book), Fisher-Price (View- Master®), Delta Enterprise Corp. (furniture), and Fun 4 All Corp. (novelties), among others.
Established in 1989, HIT Entertainment PLC is a fully integrated global studio, with divisions in the UK, U.S., Canada, Germany and Japan, including broadcast production and distribution, video and audio sales, consumer products licensing, and marketing. A world leader in quality family entertainment, the company controls all rights for such acclaimed children’s properties as Angelina Ballerina™, Barney®, Bob the Builder™, Kipper™, Pingu™ and Thomas & Friends™. Rubbadubbers™, a new HIT-produced series, made its U.S. broadcast launch in September 2003. In the U.S., UK and Canada, HIT Entertainment also distributes the popular preschool property, The Wiggles.
The Jim Henson Company has remained an established leader in family entertainment for over 50 years and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and digital animation. Best known as creators of the world famous Muppets, Henson has received over 50 Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards. Recent credits include the Emmy® nominated “Sid the Science Kid,” “Dinosaur Train,” “Wilson & Ditch: Digging America” and “Pajanimals.” Features include “The Dark Crystal,” “Labyrinth,” “MirrorMask,” and “Unstable Fables” and television productions include “Fraggle Rock” and the sci-fi cult series “Farscape.”
With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and postproduction facilities. Independently owned and operated by the five adult children of founder Jim Henson, the Company is also home to Jim Henson’s Creature ShopTM, a pre-eminent character-building and visual effects group with international film, television and advertising clients, as well as Henson Recording Studios, one of
the music industry’s top recording facilities known for its world-class blend of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment. The Company’s Henson Alternative brand has recently launched the national tour of “Stuffed and Unstrung,” a live puppet improvisational show named one of the top 10 “Best Stage Shows of 2010” by Entertainment Weekly.