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Apple nabs the rights to the late Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts brand following a highly competitive bidding process. The deal will see Apple team with DHX, which already has a stake in the Peanuts franchise, to produce upcoming projects, including new specials and animated shorts, exclusively for Apple TV.

Under the new partnership, DHX is also planning to produce original short-form STEM content featuring Snoopy as an astronaut. Peanuts Worldwide and NASA recently signed a multi-year deal to create this content under a “Space Act Agreement” timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 and NASA’s Moon missions.

Legendary Entertainment signs a deal with Brian K. Vaughan to develop adaptations of his comics (which include Saga, Paper Girls, and Barrier) as well as new projects. The film studio also locks in a two-year deal with Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction’s prodco. Potential series include DeConnick’s Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly and Fraction’s Sex Criminals, ODY-C, and Casanova.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its Worldwide TOP Partner Alibaba Group launch the first-ever Olympic store on Tmall. Initially available to Chinese fans, there are plans to expand the commerce platform globally. The store features three Olympic core licensing collections: the Olympic Games Collection includes Beijing 2022 and Tokyo 2020 Games goods such as pins, apparel, and other memorabilia; the Olympic Heritage Collection features art and design elements from previous Games editions, such as postcards of historical Olympic posters; and the Olympic Collection targets a young and active audience through sports equipment and toys.

Hockey Canada and Fanatics sign on to a long-term, multichannel agreement which aims to bring fans throughout Canada and beyond a significantly expanded retail experience. The wide-sweeping deal will grant Fanatics exclusive rights across Hockey Canada ecommerce and on-site retail channels and will also allow the company to produce Hockey Canada fan apparel across all retail and wholesale channels. The two will also work together to identify new partners.

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) expands Juicy Couture throughout South Korea in partnership with Shinsegae Intl., a Korean lifestyle company specializing in retail development and brand building. Shinsegae will launch 10 shop-in-shop locations in major department stores throughout the region by 2020 with the expectation that there will be 50 additional shop-in-shops by the end of 2024. The first location will debut Aug. 2019.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquires global luxury hotel group Belmont for $2.6 billion. The deal includes Hotel Cipriani in Venice, the Hotel Splendido in Portofino, and 44 others. LVMH currently provides experiential luxury at its Cheval-Blanc properties in Courchevel, St. Barths, the Maldives, and Saint-Tropez. LVMH also owns the Bulgari hotel properties.

Genesco sells Lids Sports Group for $100 million in cash to FanzzLids, a holding company controlled and operated by affiliates of Ames Watson Capital. Ames Watson also owns Fanzz, a specialty retailer of licensed sports apparel. Genesco’s Lids Sports Group division operates the Lids headwear stores, the Locker Room by Lids and other team sports fan shops, and single team clubhouse stores that collectively add up to just over 1,100 locations. Fanzz/Just Sports counts approximately 100 retail stores. Seperately, Fanatics will make a minority investment in FanzzLids as part of an agreement that will see the retailer assist with the new company’s online operations.

Genius Brands Intl.’s new animated adventure preschool series, Rainbow Rangers, heads to the live stage following a rights acquisition deal with Gershwin Entertainment. The live theater production debut is timed to coincide with the preschool brand’s U.S. retail launch in 2019.

In collaboration with the NBA, Walt Disney Imagineering will bring a new NBA Experience to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Summer 2019. The destination will feature hands-on activities that immerse guests into the world of professional basketball.

Creatively Classic Activities & Books and Mills Entertainment partner to launch The Elf on the Shelf—A Christmas Musical.  The new production kicks off its nationwide holiday tour in 2019.

eOne partners with Alibaba to launch a Peppa Pig-themed Tmall campaign on Jan. 8, 2019, in conjunction with its newly launched indoor attraction opened recently by Merlin Entertainment in Shanghai. The event also follows news that Alibaba Pictures has commenced on a new Chinese Peppa Pig theatrical release co-production with eOne. Digital promotional activity and exclusive product offerings over the 24 hour-long Super Brand Day are intended to boost sales going into the Chinese New Year.

NASCAR, Race Team Alliance, and 704Games combine ti form the first-ever NASCAR esports league on consoles, titled eNASCAR Heat Pro League. The league will feature up to 16 race teams and 32 drivers, with each owned and operated by key NASCAR race teams. Teams participating in the new esports venture include: Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.

The Entertainer buys Poly, a chain of 57 toy shops in Spain, marking the U.K.-based toy retailer’s first European acquisition. Poly held 5% Spanish market share.

Newell Brands completes its divestitures of two businesses, Pure Fishing and Jostens, as the company continues to execute on its Accelerated Transformation Plan, designed to create a simpler, faster, stronger consumer-focused portfolio of leading brands.

In theater licensing news, Concord Music acquires theater publisher Samuel French in a blockbuster deal that expands its Concord Theatricals unit and makes it the biggest such company providing comprehensive services in theatrical licensing, music publishing, and cast recordings. The deal sees Concord Theatricals now comprising the libraries of Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatricals, Samuel French, and Tams-Witmark, as well as the formation of The Musical Company, a joint venture between Concord and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.

CSR: Being Good at Doing Good

Hasbro launches pilot worker well-being programs in two of its global supply chain locations in an effort to improve the lives of women factory workers. Hasbro is adopting Gap’s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program in China, and Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) HERhealth program in India.

Hearst Television launches a yearlong initiative to chronicle undertakings across the country focused on uniting people within their communities. Project CommUNITY will shine a light on positive efforts bringing neighbors together and will feature local content developed by each participating Hearst station.

Sesame Workshop launches an initiative to support the growing number of children across the U.S. who are experiencing homelessness. The program will feature Lily, a 7-year-old Muppet whose family is staying with friends on Sesame Street after losing their home. Lily will be featured in new videos, books and digital content.


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