This little piggy is going to market. . .
New York-based media rights and brand management company Silver Lining Productions has signed an exclusive deal with author-illustrator Ian Falconer for his surprise hit picture book Olivia. The agreement covers all non-publishing categories, such as merchandising and entertainment rights. Diana Mason, president and co-founder of Silver Lining, says the company’s immediate priority is to line up TV production partners. Although nothing has been finalized yet, Mason says Falconer is leaning towards a 3-D CGI adaptation, which would be similar in style to Nelvana’s Rolie Polie Olie.
The book, which focuses on the whimsical world of a young girl piglet, has been a cause celebre since it hit stores last October. So far, the title has sold over 400,000 copies, has been sublicensed to 14 pubcos around the globe, and has racked up a number of literary prizes, including the Caldecott Award.
Though she says production interest in Olivia has been intense, Mason doesn’t expect the TV series will be ready until 2003. ‘Because of the quality we’re hoping to achieve with the show, we’re not going to rush this,’ she says.
As for merchandising, Silver Lining won’t likely sign on very many licensees until it has solidified its TV situation; however, the company will be showcasing Olivia at Licensing Show this month. In the interim, Silver Lining is assembling a modest book-based licensing program, and has signed an exclusive one-year retail distribution deal with FAO Schwarz. Starting in Q4, FAO will introduce dedicated Olivia areas into each of its stores, featuring the book and related merch such as plush and dress dolls. The two items will be produced by Gund and Madame Alexander respectively, and will be promoted via FAO’s website and Christmas catalog, says Silver Lining CEO Amory Millard.
In addition to the FAO product launch, Simon & Schuster will release the second book in the series, called Olivia Saves the Circus, in October. In it, Olivia’s fertile imagination gets the better of her as she relays tall tales to her classmates on how she spent her summer holidays.
Something Fowl this way comes
Disney imprints Hyperion Books and Talk Miramax Books have concocted a massive marketing campaign designed to get kids into Artemis Fowl, a new fantasy-genre answer to Harry Potter that debuted in bookstores last month.
The centerpiece of the pubcos’ US$250,000 campaign includes a ‘Crack the Code’ sweepstakes in which kids must decipher symbols that are printed across the bottom of the book’s pages and send the answers via e-mail or snail mail to Artemisfowl.com. The pubco will draw a winner from the submissions, to be announced on July 31. The grand prize is a walk-on appearance in the film adaptation of Fowl, which Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Films is producing for a 2002 launch. Secondary prizes include Artemis Fowl T-shirts, copies of the book autographed by its author Eoin Colfer, and free music CDs from Disney’s Hollywood Records.
Other components in the program include a seven-city author tour and print ads promoting the book in Talk Magazine and New York Times Book Review, both of which launched last month. Dubbed by many reviewers as the anti-Harry Potter, Fowl is about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who uses his knowledge of computers and teleportation devices to kidnap a leprechaun and hold him for ransom. Talk Miramax, which owns U.S. publishing and entertainment rights, will release the second installment in the Fowl trilogy in spring ’02.