At the occasion of the upcoming US trade events tour, Kidscreen Summit and Toy Fair New York, LM met Lynne Karppi, Director, Creative and Licensing at Scholastic Entertainment to learn more what’s new with this leading global content provider
Could you tell us about the current Scholastic productions? – Scholastic Entertainment is finishing-up the 39 episodes of the new Clifford the Big Red Dog animated series. We have a large catalog of content and meet regularly with potential film, production, streaming, and broadcast partners and we have several projects in various stages of development. We are in development with Josephson Entertainment for a live-action feature film and series. There is a live-action hybrid Clifford The Big Red Dog movie from Paramount releasing November 13th, 2020. Bacon Me Crazy is in production for Hallmark Channel.
Which are the main novelties planned on 2020? – We have both existing and new Clifford licensees that will release product based on the new TV series throughout 2020 and beyond. In the market you will soon find toys, plush, games, puzzles, party goods, holiday ornaments and stockings, ride-ons, costumes, and bandages. We are planning to sign-on apparel, accessories, bed, bath, room décor, and other licensees in the near future. New partner announcements will be made soon.
Our publishing group has a full calendar of new Clifford TV tie-in titles planned for 2020, including a novelty title in our Water Wonder line called Where’s Clifford? In the story, Emily Elizabeth and Clifford are playing hide-and-seek, but Clifford is so big and red it’s hard for him to stay hidden! Emily Elizabeth and her friends try to find Clifford the perfect hiding spot. This twelve-page board book comes with a pen that kids can fill with water to reveal hidden images, like where Clifford and his friends are hiding throughout Birdwell Island! This novelty is also reusable, so kids can let the pages dry and color them in again and again, each time they read the storybook. We are thrilled that this reinforces imaginative play and storytelling which are so fundamental to the brand.
Could you tell us more on the Clifford The Big Red Dog re-launch? – The new series focuses on imaginative play and early literacy and maintains the positive life lessons that have always been a part of the Clifford franchise – kindness, honesty, and empathy. We made changes to the show in how we tell the stories and by giving it a fresh look and feel. In the new series, we emphasize the friendship between Clifford and Emily Elizabeth by allowing them to speak to each other; they truly are best friends. This puts both Clifford and Emily Elizabeth front and center in their adventures alongside their dog and human friends. To help the stories move along, each episode features an original song sung in a range of genres. We wanted kids to feel empowered and see themselves in the characters in the series, so the new show represents a more diverse community. We looked at the original book series art as inspiration for the new TV series; even Clifford has a slightly new look. His fur is more textured to make him fluffier and he has a more expressive face.
Could you tell us about the development strategies of your IPs? – Scholastic Entertainment develops and produces TV series and movies based on the books Scholastic publishes in the U.S. and around the world through our subsidiaries. We study the book; we look at the characters, dialogue, the feelings, the storyline, and the art and design. We also look at trends in the market and broadcaster or studio needs to determine if the book will find a screen home. We keep as close as we can to the source material and expand on it for either TV or movie. We think about what we need to change as we adapt it from book to TV or movie depending on the new story we want to tell.
Which are the main focus territories for you, beyond USA? – Besides countries where Scholastic has a subsidiary (Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and India) Scholastic works in all regions of the world with a lean towards Germany, Spain, France, Italy, China, and Korea.
What about the link of Scholastic properties with the toy industry? – Scholastic always looks to place our properties with partners who can develop exceptional products that stay true to the essence of a brand. We have enjoyed long-term success for our seek-and-find property I SPY by continuing our relationship with University Games, which has developed a comprehensive line of I SPY Games under their Briarpatch line, and has been expanding their Scholastic Brand line of educational games.
Because Clifford The Big Red Dog is a true evergreen property, we have many long-term partners like Douglas Cuddle Toys (Plush) and Dukal (Bandages), which are continuing to develop product for the brand ,and have also welcomed some new best-in class licensees like Kurt Adler (Ornaments and Stockings); Underwraps (Costumes and Costume accessories); Shindigz (Party Goods); Brand Partners Group/Toyzon (Slow-Foam Squishies); and Dynacraft (Wheeled Goods: Bicycles, Trikes, Ride-ons).
The first Clifford book was published in 1963 and the classic TV series launched in 2000, so Clifford appeals to a wide age range. To satisfy this fan base we have also been partnering with select companies to create product using vintage artwork, including Out Of Print (Tote Bags, Pouches, T-Shirts) and Storiarts (baby hats, kid-sized totes, blankets).
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