Aiming to allow its film and TV division to diversify into other types of programming that might not fit with the Lego brand, the Dutch toy giant has sold off Lego Media to Billund, Denmark-based investment company Kirkbi A/S.
Operating independently under the new moniker of Create TV & Film, the studio plans to branch out into documentaries, other factual programming formats and live-action dramas for family audiences. ‘We’re never going to be huge,’ says Vanessa Chapman, formerly Lego Media’s global controller of programming and strategy, now one of Create’s directors. ‘But this gives us an opportunity to build a business that exists in other genres where we believe we have a unique offering.’ Create’s first project will be a family-targeted documentary that’s in development, and Chapman has already started scouting for partners. The studio may also develop IP for other media outside of film and TV.
Independence was always in the cards for Lego’s screen entertainment unit, which Chapman helped launch in 2000. ‘We had three horizons to our strategy,’ she says. ‘One was to set up the company and develop a core philosophy. Two was to establish stand-alone intellectual properties, which we did with Little Robots and the Bionicle direct-to-video DVD venture. And the third phase is what we’re doing now.’
Though Create is no longer part of Lego, it’ll still have some dealings with the toyco. Chapman says the studio will maintain a close relationship with Lego on a work-for-hire basis, and Create is also considering extending its first-look option with the company for any relevant projects it develops.
As far as Create’s ownership goes, Kirkbi A/S is majority-owned by the Kristiansen family, which also owns Lego. But ‘it’s important to stress that we’re in no way associated with Lego Media,’ notes Jette Orduna, Lego’s director of communications.
Chapman says she has no plans to cut staff, and the Create team will remain in Lego Media’s offices in Slough, England. The company plans to reveal more details about its production slate and new partners later this year.