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Content Watch: New Series & Activations

Differential Brands Group will acquire the majority of Hong Kong-based Global Brands Group Holding Ltd.’s North American licensing business for $1.38 billion in an all-cash deal expected to close Q3 2018. The acquisition is expected to boost Differential Brands’ annual revenues up to more than $2.3 billion.

The assets at stake comprise all of GBG’s North American children’s apparel and accessories businesses as well as a majority of its West Coast and Canadian fashion operations. Included are licensing rights for Disney, Star Wars, Calvin Klein, Under Armour, Juicy Couture, Tommy Hilfiger, BCBG, Bebe, Joe’s, Buffalo David Bitton, Frye, Michael Kors, Cole Haan, and Kenneth Cole. Prior to the deal, DBG’s apparel brands included Hudson Jeans, Robert Graham, and SWIMS.

GBG’s remaining businesses will comprise its footwear business, New York fashion business, European and Asian businesses, and its Global Brand Management business. In 2014, the company was spun off from sourcing and supply chain giant Li & Fung. GBG reported a $877 million net loss in fiscal 2017 (ended March 31), compared to a profit of $95 million the year prior.

New Content Tracker

Will Smith and Marc Forster have partnered to acquire Telepool GmbH, a German licensing and distribution company. As part of the deal, it will become a development, financing, and distribution partner for Smith’s and Forster’s films.

Former Nickelodeon producer Butch Hartman launches a Kickstarter project to develop a safe, family-centric SVOD service called Oaxis, which will feature original, acquired and user-generated content spanning animation, drama, comedy, feature films, sports, fitness, reality, news and video games. The company has named a $250,000, 30-day goal to finance the first phase of Oaxis’s startup costs with rewards including Hartman-designed digital wallpaper, customized pen and ink drawings from his sketchbook, and an opportunity to participate in a Hartman-hosted video tutorial.

Prior to his departure, Hartman inked a non-exclusive three-year deal with to develop a trio of animated kids series in partnership with the platform’s CCO, Albie Hecht. Hartman is also currently maintaining his senior creative consultant role with

Marvel’s Korean-American superheroine Cindy Moon, star of comic Silk, is in early development on a movie adaptation from Sony and producer Amy Pascal. A classmate of Peter Parker’s, Cindy gains similar abilities to Spider-Man after also being bitten by a radioactive spider around the same time as him. The character appeared in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War played by Tiffany Espensen.

Amazon Studios orders animated series Invincible from The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and artist Ryan Ottley. Based on Kirkman’s comic book series of the same name, the project marks the first series greenlit under the overall deal Amazon Studios struck with Kirkman last year.

U.K. independent producer Nevision is developing a live action adaptation after optioning a trilogy of children’s books by M.G. Leonard: Beetle Boy, Beetle Queen, and recently released Battle of the Beetles. The trilogy is published by Chicken House in the U.K. and Scholastic elsewhere. M.G. Leonard is signed on as screenplay writer, Nigel Pickard as Executive Producer, and Ceri Barnes as Development Executive. The deal was negotiated with Kirsty McLachlan of DGA Ltd.

Nick Jr. partners with Vue Entertainment to bring episodes of PAW Patrol, Top Wing, and new content from Shimmer & Shine to cinemas in the U.K. and Ireland.

Entertainment One enters into a two-year, first-look deal for scripted and unscripted programming with Cedar Park Entertainment, David Ayer’s and Chris Long’s new production house.

Rovio’s Angry Birds World launches in Qatar, with the indoor section developed by location-based entertainment company Trimoo now welcoming visitors. The entertainment park boasts over 4 acres of floor space a roller glider, multi-level indoor/outdoor karting track, trampolines, and The Big Tree interactive learning center, which will teach guests about science and encourage kids to express their musical abilities.

Hasbro debuts The Play-Doh Show, a weekly series of minute-long animated shorts, on YouTube. Each episode features stop-motion animations made from Play-Doh modeling compound and focus on themes like pets, birthday parties, and going back to school.

Experiential Initiatives

The Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage are developing a new stage musical inspired by the life of Michael Jackson. The as yet untitled show is expected to arrive on Broadway in 2020 and will boast a book by Lynn Nottage, a score drawing on Jackson’s catalogue, and direction and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.

Maxim and global marketing agency Lagardere Sports and Entertainment announce a new joint venture to redesign, produce, and market the magazine brand’s three annual tentpole events—the Maxim Hot 100, Halloween and Big Game events—as the new “Maxim Experiences” platform. As part of the joint venture, Lagardère Sports and Entertainment will market and sell the events, from both a partnership and ticket perspective.

Edutainment Licensing opens new Arty Mouse Pop-Up Activity Centres in China following a deal with Jolliplay Cultural & Technology Ltd. in a deal brokered by regional subagent PPW Digital. The standalone edutainment attractions bring to life to the pre-school property in a series of interactive and immersive play areas that offer kids and parents the chance to learn to read and write English and watch and take part in theatre shows. The first will open in Shanghai and Beijing, with more rolling out across China in 2019.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment launches Westworld, a mobile simulation game, based on the HBO TV series of the same name, that invites players to take on the role of a new Delos employee who is given access to the Delos Park Training Simulation. Players control all aspects of Westworld park operations including manufacturing, managing, and upgrading AI based hosts as well as satisfying a wide range of guest desires. The game app was produced by WB Games San Francisco in collaboration with Kilter Films and was developed by Behaviour Interactive. Almost immediately, however, Bethesda Softworks sues over allegedly copied code from Bethesda’s own mobile game, Fallout Shelter.

Universal and Earplay, a developer of interactive audio stories, release Jurassic World Revealed, an interactive audio adventure available on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Players participate with their voice in a parallel story set during the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.


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