GoodTimes Entertainment and Golden Books Family Entertainment are counting on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s shining schnozz to become a bright light as a theatrical and licensing property.
The companies will co-produce an original full-length animated film to be released worldwide for Christmas 1998. The US$10-million feature film will be supported by a domestic and international licensing program.
Andrew Greenberg, president of GoodTimes Entertainment, had been pursuing the rights to Rudolph for several years. Although GoodTimes often purchases new and unknown properties, it prefers to work with those that come with presold equity. ‘My main goal for this company is to build mass-market annuities,’ says Greenberg. ‘I’m looking to spend a lot of time and a lot of money on property development, and develop these properties with the full extent of the resources that we have.’
Rudolph fits perfectly with Greenberg’s strategy of seeking out properties that come with built-in name recognition that can be exploited by the various divisions of GoodTimes Entertainment. Over a billion copies of the song ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ have been sold worldwide.
‘Rudolph is going to be a business that g’es on every year, and we’re going to use it as a template to find other properties that fall into that same mold,’ he says.
GoodTimes’ venture into feature films is the latest move in its long-term goal of becoming a fully vertically integrated multimedia company. GoodTimes began as a distributor of home video and now has divisions in licensing, production, publishing and direct mail, as well as food and vitamins. In the children’s arena, it is the domestic distributor for Frederick Warne’s Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit videos.
Because of various rights issues, there has never been a comprehensive licensing of the Rudolph character. Now that a program can be organized around the film, Greenberg thinks a tremendous opportunity awaits in developing product bearing the reindeer’s likeness.
GoodTimes plans to license as much product as possible internally, or to companies that it has a shared interest in for example, GT Food will hold the food license. Only after GoodTimes decides what products are right for its divisions will it seek third parties to fill in the gaps in the overall merchandising program.
‘My feeling is less [licensees] is better,’ he says. ‘We plan on doing only six to eight third-party licensees. The rest will be done by companies that we control, because we like to have control of the product.’
Golden Books will publish an extensive line of Rudolph books in conjunction with the new movie.
Golden Books, formerly Western Publishing, acquired the long-running Rudolph TV special when it purchased Broadway Video. Greenberg, who had been in the process of acquiring the rights to the character from Broadway Video, proposed the partnership. ‘Strategically, there were many things that we were able to bring to the table that [Golden Books] just wasn’t a specialist in.’