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TOY LICENSING

Little Figures Headed to the Big Screen

Germany’s venerable Playmobil toy brand is headed to the movies. Leading European production company ON Entertainment, with partners Wild Bunch and Pathe, has started production on a $75 million franchise-based movie called Playmobil: Robbers, Thieves & Rebels. Variety reported that the film was snatched up by a flurry of international distributors at the Toronto International Film Festival, including Cross Creek, which plans a wide release in the U.S. Producer Dmitri Rassam told Variety that ON Animation Studios, a division of ON Entertainment, is building a movie franchise around the iconic 2¾ inch tall figures. Playmobil: Robbers, Thieves & Rebels, the first film in a planned trilogy, is expected to be released by late 2018.

An estimated 2.7 billion Playmobil figures have been produced for 100 countries around the world. The company next spring will bring to market in the U.S. a retro-style Playmobil line of accessories, apparel, novelty items, gifts and paper goods designed to appeal to teens and young adults. A full-scale children’s licensing program for the classic Playmobil brand will follow. Evolution is Playmobil’s U.S. licensing, merchandising and promotional agency.

The Playmobil film follows The Lego Movie, which grossed $468.8 million worldwide last year and was one of Warner Bros.’s biggest films of 2014. A Lego sequel is due in 2018. For TLL’s comprehensive list of movies with licensing potential that are due for release between 2016 and 2019, click here.

Unlike Lego, which licenses in numerous entertainment properties for toys—notably Star Wars and DC Comics properties, Playmobil has focused its playsets on a variety of historical and modern play themes. The company earlier this year signed its first-ever licensing deal, with the National Hockey League (NHL). It will bring the first NHL toys to retail this month to coincide with the start of the 2015-2016 season.

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