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Walt Disney Acquires Lucasfilm, Ltd.

The Walt Disney Company will acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100 percent owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas. Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, including its Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live-action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post-production. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga.

Licensing Deals Bring Hotel Transylvania Global

Sony Pictures Consumer Products is bringing the box office success of Hotel Transylvania to retailers and consumers worldwide. U.S. licensees for the film include C-Life with T-shirts, fleece, thermals, and onesies; General Mills with custom cereal box packaging; Dalmatian Press with grab-and-go playpacks with crayons and stickers; Trends International with posters; Bendon Publishing International with coloring books and activity books; Rubie’s Costume Company with costumes, masks, wigs, face and body makeup, prosthetics, hats, and headwear; Toy Factory with amusement plush, puffer balls, and rack toys; and Dylan’s Candy Bar with three different flavors of chocolate bars.

Worldwide international licensees include Castle Builders with children’s movie digital storybook application; GameMill Entertainment with Nintendo DS and DSi games; Mishme with Hotel Transylvania avatars for use and sale within the Mishme Messaging App; PlayFirst with smartphone and tablet applications; Pearson Education with book and audio cassettes, e-books, and paperbacks; and Titan Publishing with an art and making-of book and e-book rights for the published book.

In Brazil, Yangzi Brasil will have backpacks, lunch bags, and pen and pencil cases; Editora Alto Astra will have coloring and activity books; Editora Vale das Letras will have novelizations, activity books, and storybooks; and Panini Brasil will have sticker books and stickers. In addition, Edel Germany will produce an audio storyteller CD and digital distribution for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Banijay Group Creates YouTube Original Content

Companies within international production conglomerate Banijay Group in France and the U.S. have begun creating online programming for new branded channels as part of the YouTube Original Content Initiative.

Air Productions, in partnership with France Télévisions, has launched a new channel as an extension of its live music show Taratata, called Taratata On Air. The channel, fully edited and programmed by Air Productions, follows a weekly programming schedule, including original musical content, such as backstage videos, cover versions of featured songs, and quizzes. The channel will also tap into some of the 20 years of archive Taratata footage.

In the U.S., Bunim/Murray Productions has partnered with Alchemy Networks to produce programming for an urban-themed premium YouTube channel launching in the fourth quarter of this year. Bunim/Murray will provide new original programming five days per week.

Record Attendance for Brand Licensing

Brand Licensing Europe, which was held last week in London, attracted a record attendance with an increase of 23 percent in visitor numbers. Exhibitor numbers were also up by 20 percent. In total, combined visitor and exhibitor numbers topped 9,000 with an increase of 17 percent on people attending from outside the UK.

The show has become a truly international event with visitors from all parts of Europe as well as Asia, Latin America, and as far as Australia and New Zealand. Retailer attendance was also up 14 percent this year.

“We are thrilled with the results of this year’s show and have worked hard to ensure the event reflects the needs of our visitors and exhibitors,” says Jessica Blue, event director, BLE. “The feedback from exhibitors and visitors has indicated that we have achieved this, and we look forward to making the event even bigger and better in 2013.”

According to organizers Advanstar, 74 percent of the floor space for next year’s show has already been sold. In common with Licensing Expo in Vegas, the show will be separated into three sectors: Art, Design, and Image; Entertainment and Character; and Brand.

RGH Licenses Traveling the Silk Road Exhibit for an Interactive Adventure at TRSA

Rubicon Group Holding (RGH) has signed a licensing agreement with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) for intellectual property rights to AMNH’s exhibition, Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World.

The new agreement grants RGH rights to use Traveling the Silk Road as the foundation for the design of a new interactive experience to be featured at The Red Sea Astrarium, a resort in development in Jordan.

Traveling the Silk Road explores the most celebrated trade route in human history through sights, sounds, artifacts, and interactive features, as it transports visitors to four ancient cities: Xi’an, Turfan, Samarkand, and Baghdad.  RGH will expand and enhance the exhibition at TRSA, adding an additional city to the mix and updating the interactive elements with 21st century technology and media. The Silk Road exhibition will be layered throughout the Hijazi Gardens at TRSA, a sprawling botanical garden recreating the environments found at various points along history’s most important trade route.

The exhibition is the foundation for a new interactive, augmented reality game in which users take on the roles of merchants, citizens, and explorers traveling the Silk Road and engaging with the exhibit content, other guests, and park staff.

Pear Bureau Northwest Awarded 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has awarded Pear Bureau Northwest $75,000 in specialty crop grant funding to promote USA Pears, in conjunction with the children’s entertainment brand, LazyTown. The project will be tailored to retail partners and schools with live events and co-branded materials.

LazyTown is a global television show that promotes healthier lifestyle choices for children. In the U.S., the LazyTown television series airs in the U.S. on Sprout and on a Saturday morning programming block on NBC. The show also airs on Telemundo in Spanish nationwide.

The grant award will enable Pear Bureau Northwest to engage in a promotion with LazyTown to motivate children to make healthy lifestyle choices, such as keeping active and eating fruits and vegetables. The Pear Bureau has developed custom point of sale materials, including floor signs, channel cards with tear-off recipe pads, and life-size standees for retail promotions. The partnership will include appearances by LazyTown’s main character, Sportacus, at select schools and retailers that excel in promoting pears.

Two Pop Culture Icons Partner to Create One DOPE Line

Renowned street artist known for infusing populist views with humor and sarcasm, Shepard Fairey, has partnered with The Simpsons for a new collection available exclusively at Urban Outfitters.

The UO <3s The Simpsons DOPE Collection features an image of Homer Simpson in classic Fairey style. The four-piece assortment includes a poster, a T-shirt, a flask, and an iPhone case.

My Little Pony Royal Wedding Inspires European Licensees

Hasbro and its European licensees will bring to market more than 100 new My Little Pony licensed products this year.  Additionally, major retailers such as Toys “R” Us, Argos, and Selfridges have signed on to create dedicated My Little Pony-themed in-store destinations, as well as pop-up boutiques.  Many of the licensee and retail programs set to roll out this fall and winter have been inspired by the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, A Royal Wedding two-part episode.

Hasbro will showcase My Little Pony at Brand Licensing Europe in London, including new product ranges to hit retail in spring of next year from European licensees, including:
·         Apparel:  Smith & Brooks, TV Mania, Ackroyds, TDP Textiles, Truffle Shuffle, Somerbond
·         Accessories: Trademark Collections, Tomy
·         Home Decor: Character World, Zorluteks, Worlds Apart, Spearmark
·         Arts & Crafts: Sambro, Milkshake Creations
·         Gifts: Funrise, Pocket Money
·         Publishing: Phidal, Signature
·         Food & Beverage: Heinz, Bon Bon, Amscan
·         Party & Stationery: Alpa
·         Healthcare & Beauty: Ultimate
·         Outdoor: MV Sports

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