LEGO’s strategy of using multiple media outlets to build a consumer base for Bionicles well before the action figures launched at retail in August 2001 has been a rollicking success. Bolstered by a web series outlining the toys’ backstory that is attracting around 600,000 unique visitors a month, a special-edition comic book that shipped to 1.8 million kids with LEGO magazine in May and June 2001, and a September 2001 McDonald’s QSR deal, Bionicles toys outsold every other action figure line in the U.S. between August and November 2001.
LEGO Media is now looking to extend the property’s multi-platform pedigree to the screen, with a DTV feature in development. The 70-minute CGI project–Bionicle: The Mask of Light–will target a core audience of seven- to 12-year-olds with a story line that centers around the island of Mata Nui, which was previously protected by a great spirit of the same name, but is now crumbling into the ocean. Mata Nui’s jealous sibling Makuta has placed his brother into a deep sleep and is responsible for the island’s destruction. With the help of six Bionicles–ancient warriors who’ve pledged to defend the island–three kids must use the Mask of Light to end Makuta’s tyranny.
Henry Gilroy, a California-based writer who worked on Disney’s Timon & Pumba animated series, has been chosen to pen the project, and LEGO was shopping for a CGI studio to handle the physical production at press time. The DTV will be released on VHS and DVD in September 2003, along with film-related toys and three video games from LEGO Interactive. At press time, LEGO was in negotiations with three major players for global distribution rights for the DTV, and a TV series is planned as the next Bionicles incarnation.
Also on the tube front, LEGO Media has finished a MIP-TV pilot for a series called Project X with Vancouver, Canada-based Milestone Productions and Mainframe Entertainment. Planned as 26 half hours, the live-action/CGI concept for eight- to 12-year-olds is about five kids who are accidentally digitized and transported into an alternate Internet reality 200 years in the future. They discover a computerized version of Earth on the brink of extinction and must figure out how to stop a deadly computer virus and reboot the world.