Based on the classic 1918 Norman Lindsay book, The Magic Pudding is being touted by Australian producer Energee Entertainment as the first ever full-length animated feature out of Oz with enough international licensing and promotional backing to make it a global hit.
‘The whole project is very high-profile,’ says Lim Mi-Kyoung, group brand manager for Australia-based master licensing agent Gaffney International, noting that Mel Gibson’s distribution company (London’s Icon Entertainment) is involved, along with the voice talents of John Cleese as the pudding. Adrian vanderKraan, Energee’s licensing and merchandising manager, adds that the tale has multi-generational global appeal built in. While it’s a fun cartoon for kids ages three to 12, he says, it’s also a story about the Australian bush culture and a political statement about the haves and the have-nots of the country.
The feature is slated for release December 14 in Australia and the U.K. with a U.S. release set for mid-2001. Twentieth Century Fox will distribute the film in Australia with Icon distributing directly in the U.K. and contracting local distributors in Western and Eastern Europe, Israel, Russia and South Africa. A German distributor has yet to sign, but Germany’s RTV Family Entertainment has already picked up local TV and video rights. Curiously, next door neighbor New Zealand has yet to ink a distributor deal, and a distributor for the mother lode market in the U.S. is still being sought, although talks were ongoing at press time for both territories. Global licensing action is also ramping up with Saban Consumer Products handling licensing in the U.K. and considering other territories as well.
Rounding out the franchise, a 26 x 24-minute TMP animated TV series is in early development. Icon Films will again handle international distribution, with local distributors yet to be signed. At press time the BBC was negotiating broadcast rights for the series, slated for completion by Q2 2002.
* about 20 Australian licensees have signed or are pending for merch including apparel, calendars, stamp kits, posters, CD-ROMs, back-to-school items, figurines and real puddings with on-pack promos
* Magic Pudding publisher HarperCollins plans to issue Golden Book movie spin-off titles in Australia
* Scholastic will publish film-based books for Australia and the U.K.
* CA Australia will produce plush toys, backpacks and hand puppets, to be distributed in Australia, France and the U.K.
* about US$600,000 will be spent on advertising and promotions in Australia
* Australian fast food chain Red Rooster has signed for a QSR promo and Creata Promotions is orchestrating an Aussie gas station premium program
* other promotional partners signed to date include Aussie jelly pop maker Mike & Jack, Aussie cake and pudding mix maker Goodman Fielder, U.K.-based Flora Margarine and Nestle’s yogurt in Australia and the U.K.