The X-Files’s Fox Mulder will no longer have to search for the truth alone. BKN is hoping its animated Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths & Legends will ride on the same wave of paranoia that drives Mulder, and that the show`s sci-fi and mystery theme will help it stand out among kids licensed properties.
According to Nadia Nardonnet, president of international TV sales and world merchandising at BKN, Roswell Conspiracies, named for the legendary U.S. desert town of Roswell, where an alien craft was believed to have crash-landed in 1947, is about uncovering the truth. ‘What we’ll know during the course of the show is that aliens have existed for years, and the legends and myths we know-werewolves, vampires-are actually aliens living on Earth.’ The two stars uncovering the truth are detection agents Nick Logan, a former bounty hunter, and Sh’Lainn Blaze, a banshee in human form.
The show, produced by BKN Studios (formerly Epoch Ink until it was bought out by BKN last year), has a production budget of US$18.7 million for 40 half-hours, and has been sold to the BBC in the U.K., Super RTL in Germany, Mediaset in Italy, Antenna TV in Greece, MNET in South Africa, Televisa in Mexico and Cartoon Network in Latin America. It will also air on BKN`s Bulldog TV kids block in the U.S., beginning on August 29 and running for one or two months, then returning in spring or fall 2000 to coincide with the full launch of the series worldwide.
BKN plans to spend about US$2 million to promote the series, beginning in spring 2000 and increasing in fall 2000, which will benefit the licensing program. This will include the development of a Roswell Conspiracies Web site (www.roswellconspiracies.com), promotions on the BKN network and cross-promotions with licensees, mostly on TV in the U.S., Germany and France.
Nardonnet believes that science-fiction/mystery programming is a hot trend among kids and teens, which has not been fully sated by the selection of licensed product already out there. ‘I believe that kids, especially teens, really want [more of this type of product],’ she says.
For the first step in the licensing program, BKN signed on Giochi Preziosi, the Italian toy maker that is producing action figures for Saban`s Diabolik, as worldwide master toy licensee. Giochi Preziosi will produce both articulated and nonarticulated action figures for all the major characters, including the aliens. To round out the selection, transformable vehicles and accessories, such as an alien detector, weapons and play sets, will be added. The toys will be distributed in the U.S. through Giochi Preziosi’s U.S. subsidiary, GP Toys, and Giochi Preziosi will appoint distributors in international territories. U.S.-based Red Storm Entertainment came on board last month for a three-year worldwide deal to produce titles for all console and PC platforms. BKN is looking for an English-language publishing licensee.
For BKN, which handles its licensing campaigns in-house, getting the categories of toys, English-language publishing and console/CD-ROM games signed up is first on its list of licenses because they are global deals, and ‘you [had] better start with worldwide [deals] before going local,’ says Nardonnet. Plus, ‘these are the categories where you get most of your revenue.’
Next on the agenda, BKN plans to look for licensees for apparel, non-English-language publishing and accessories.
The licensed product range, like the TV series, will be targeted primarily at boys ages six to 11, extending secondarily to male teens, who BKN believes will be drawn by the console/CD-ROM games.
The first categories-toys, English-language publishing and console/CD-ROM games-will roll out in fall 2000. The second tier of products will follow for holiday 2000.
Since BKN is handling all worldwide TV sales and merchandising activity for the show, Nardonnet says this will allow the company to create a coordinated push.
Nardonnet says past experiences have taught BKN that the most well-thought-out strategies are for naught if all participants don`t have the same vision. ‘What we have learned is to push everyone-us, the broadcaster and the licensee-in the same direction. . . .That’s really the key issue.’