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Place-based Strategy Getting DreamWorks Where it Wants to Go

By Marcy Magiera

DreamWorks Animation (DWA) must be as happy as, well, an ogre in a swamp with its strategy to exploit Shrek, Hiccup, Oh, Alex and other characters in location-based licensing. As its DreamWorks DreamPlace holiday attractions roll out in malls across the U.S. and London, the movie studio reported that its consumer product revenues more than doubled in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, rising 123% to $27 million, and rose 28% year-to-date, to $54.8 million, due primarily to revenues earned from new and extended location-based entertainment license arrangements.

Location-based entertainment opportunities in such venues as shopping malls, cruise ships and theme parks are a key part of DWA’s plan to leverage the value of its properties for recurring revenue streams and make some of its consumer product programs perennial rather than focused on specific events, such as film or home entertainment releases. Location-based entertainment is a fast-growing licensed product category, with most entertainment licensors pursuing deals with touring shows and theme parks for properties as diverse as Harry Potter, Thomas the Tank Engine, DC Comics, Star Trek and Hello Kitty.

During its fiscal third quarter DWA, in collaboration with Merlin Entertainments, opened Shrek’s Adventure! London, an immersive storytelling attraction located in County Hall on London’s South Bank, near Merlin’s other attractions including the London Eye. In Shrek’s Adventure!, guests tour the Kingdom of Far Far Away on a 4D bus ride with Donkey at the wheel. Suffice to say, given the characters involved, things do not go as planned—after the bus crashes, the guests must embark on a quest to find Shrek and return safely home. Along the way, they meet up with Princess Fiona, Puss in Boots and eventually, the characters from Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.

Shrek is also central to DreamPlace, a sort of next-level Santa’s workshop attraction, where families take a virtual sleigh ride with the ogre and his friends to meet and take photos with Santa. (Minimum buy in: a $35 photo package.)

In other location-based deals, since 2010 DWA has licensed its characters for the DreamWorks Experience on Royal Caribbean International cruises. It also mounted a How to Train Your Dragon touring show.

The studio’s properties will be featured in a DreamWorks themed zone at Dubai’s Motiongate theme park, opening in 2016, where in-park neighbors will be Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games and Sony Pictures’ Smurfs.

Lionsgate is also among the many entertainment licensors to seek both revenues and property longevity in location-based deals. Its “The Hunger Games: The Exhibition,” featuring props, costumes, photography, set recreations and a retail stores, is currently enjoying a six-month run at Discovery Times Square in New York and will move to San Francisco in February. Next year will also mount a live stage show based on The Hunger Games. The studio has teamed with Dutch media company Imagine Nation and U.S.-based Triangular Entertainment to bring the show to a new, purpose-built theater next to Wembley Stadium in London. And in addition to Motiongate, it has deals with developers to open attractions based on The Hunger Games in new parks planned for Atlanta and China, The New York Times reports.

In another recent deal, Twentieth Century Fox said last week that it will license properties including Aliens, Planet of the Apes, Sons of Anarchy and Titanic for a Fox-branded theme park and resort in Dubai to be developed by Al Ahli Holding Group. It could open in 2018, following a similar attraction in Malaysia that is expected to open in 2017.

And in an in-house deal, Jimmy Fallon is getting his own 3D amusement park ride at Universal Orlando, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, to launch 2017.


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