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Disney+ Partners With Red Hot African Animators

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief The African animation scene is red hot right now, and people in that continent are now seeing more animated films and series that represent their lives and culture. Disney is among the many companies that has discovered the rapidly growing well of talent bubbling up throughout the region, and has now partnered with animators from across Africa to create a 10-part anthology of original short films called Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “Kizazi cha Moto,” which means generation of fire, but while the name may draw from traditional language and culture, this anthology is a cutting edge, sci fi exploration of Africa’s diverse history and culture, with stories that involve aliens, spirits, advanced technology, and mythical monsters. As… . . . read more

Writers Form #DisneyMustPay Task Force In Royalty Dispute

Disney has been getting back into the publishing business in a big way in recent years, but the acquisition of several publishing houses has also brought some headaches in the form of writers who say they are owed unpaid royalties. Half a dozen writers’ organizations have joined the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in forming the task force, which is demanding the Walt Disney Company pay all royalties owed to authors. Disney says it is working to resolve the situation, which arose after it acquired a number of publishing companies, with a spokesperson saying the company “continues to work directly with agents and authors to resolve any issues or any outstanding payments. We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result… . . . read more

Who’s News: New Faces and Places at Disney, Wildbrain, Brainbase

Leading our Who’s News section, Disney has promoted Jane Gould to EVP of content research, insights and scheduling at Disney General Entertainment (DGE) Content. Gould’s position is now expanding at the House of Mouse to provide consumer insights to more of Disney’s brands. Reporting to the DGE EVP of strategy and business operations Trisha Husson, Gould will now work across Hulu Originals, ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney Branded Television, FX, Freeform and National Geographic, managing show testing, marketing and brand strategy rollouts, as well as sharing insights on the industry and audience viewing habits. She will also oversee scheduling strategy for ABC Entertainment’s original programming and Disney Branded Television’s first-run acquisitions. Gould was previously SVP of consumer insights and programming strategy, heading up research and analytics for Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior. She… . . . read more

ZAG’s Miraculous Signs With Disney and New Product Partners

The hit series Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir has been signed on for seasons four and five, and high ratings are now driving several new licensing deals. Julian Zag, Executive Vice President, Global Operations, says the company has signed several “top tier” partners over the past month for a wide range of consumer products and services. Newly signed consumer products partners include Crayola for branded color/activity books; Fast Forward for kids backpacks and lunch totes; Kid Designs for youth electronics including headphones and microphones; Komar Kids for sleepwear; Peachtree Playthings for crafts and activities; Galerie for seasonal and everyday chocolate and candy; Inkology for innovative stationary and activity products; Trends International for posters and stickers; and for branded debit and credit cards.  Additional partners for online retail… . . . read more

Box Office Sluggish for Raya and the Last Dragon

In yet another sign of the challenges ahead for cinema in 2021, the Disney blockbuster release Raya and the Last Dragon showed sluggish box office results in its first weekend in theaters. The film, produced by the same Walt Disney Animation team that put out Moana, would normally have been expected to be a tentpole event for the company, but Raya opened over the weekend with a box office take of $8.6 million from 2,045 screens, according to Variety. By contrast, despite coming out on a Wednesday, Moana earned $15.5 million on its opening day. The take for Raya was also less than the debut of Tom & Jerry the previous weekend, which earned $14.1 million, despite the fact that New York City movie theaters opened to customers last weekend… . . . read more

LEGO Takes Kids to the Hundred Acre Wood

LEGO this week launched a superb new product for fans of the Winnie the Pooh books to embrace their nostalgia with a Hundred Acre Wood play set. The set came to life from the mind of super fan Ben Alder who collaborated on the design through the LEGO Ideas program, and was made possible through a licensing partnership with brand owner Disney. Beneath a large oak tree, complete with beehives and bees, Pooh’s house takes centre stage in the new play set. The house can be opened up to unveil a host of furniture and unique items, such as the “Pooh-coo” Clock, box of “Pooh sticks,” Tigger’s locket, and of course, plenty of honey pots—both full and empty! A.A. Milnes classic tales of Christopher Robin’s adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood have… . . . read more

Boat Rocker’s Dino Ranch Lassoed by Disney

The highly rated kids show Dino Ranch from Boat Rocker Studios has been snapped up in a deal with Disney+ that will see the program air in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand starting in April. The show takes dinosaurs from Jurassic Park to a Jurassic farm, with a cute assemblage of dinosaur steeds that has already premiered for audiences on Disney Junior and DisneyNOW in the US and Canada in January. Dino Ranch was an almost instant hit with kids on Disney Junior in the US, ranking as the #1 US cable series among Kids, Boys and Girls 2-5 since launch, notes Boat Rocker. Among Disney Junior repeats, Dino Ranch also ranks #1 with Kids, Boys and Girls 2-5. Also available on DisneyNOW and VOD, Dino Ranch has… . . . read more

Disney’s Toy Onslaught For Raya and The Last Dragon

It’s been a while since a Hollywood tentpole movie has inspired a major launch of new toy lines, but Disney is taking a crack at it as Raya and the Last Dragon debuts on March 5. The COVID-19 pandemic has badly stalled releases of major films in theaters, and different studios have reacted with different strategies. Warner famously (or infamously) announced all of its films in 2021 would be made available simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max in the United States, with the long awaited Wonder Woman 1984 premiering on both platforms late last year. Disney has decided its first major release of the year will take a bow on Disney+, and all eyes in the toy licensing sector will be firmly on the film’s success in translating its… . . . read more

LEGO Named World’s Most Popular Kids Entertainment Brand

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief According to a sweeping new report on brands for children, LEGO is now the most popular kids’ entertainment brand in the world, followed by Disney, Marvel, Barbie, and with Paw Patrol rounding out the Top 5.  The data comes via a report from Brand Trends, in which mothers provided answers to a survey on behalf of their children, from ages 0 to 6.  However, it’s worth noting that some brands in the list could be combined, since, for example, Disney also owns Marvel.  And, while Spiderman is now part of the Marvel Universe, it is also so popular as a brand that it places sixth on the list as a separate franchise. Similarly, the Disney property Frozen places seventh.  If the various Disney-owned… . . . read more

Hasbro Not Toying Around With Gina Carano

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Talk about a rough week at the office. Toy giant Hasbro says it will no longer produce any toys featuring former Mandalorian star Gina Carano, who plays the part of the popular character Cara Dune. Carano was fired from her role in the hit Disney+ series after posting a series of controversial social media messages, she was dropped by her agents at United Talent Agency, and now licensed toy merchandise is also being discontinued. “The Star Wars Black Cara Dune figure was released in 2020 and sold out not long after the inventory was received,” a spokeswoman for BigBadToyStore told The Hollywood Reporter in a Monday email. “Hasbro planned for another production run and we were accepting preorders from that production run. Due to recent events,… . . . read more