Following its recent acquisition of Cinar, newly formed Canadian entertainment company Cookie Jar is branching out from edutainment production to embrace boys action-adventure. ‘It’s going to be one of our growth opportunities,’ says CEO Michael Hirsh, who racked up considerable experience in the genre shepherding hit properties such as Beyblade while at Nelvana with Cookie Jar president and COO Toper Taylor.
The company is opening up an office in Japan this month in order to capitalize on the wealth of boys action programming coming out of that territory, as well as building on the relationships Hirsh and Taylor have established with Asian companies including Kodansha, D-Rights and Milky Cartoon.
Making another move beyond edu-circles, Cookie Jar has signed on to distribute Dark Oracle, a 13 x half-hour live-action/2-D animated series in production at Toronto, Canada’s Shaftesbury Films. The show centers on 15-year-old twins who discover a comic book that houses animated alter egos who can affect the future of their human counterparts. Aimed at the eight to 12 set, Dark Oracle should air on Canada’s YTV this fall.
Along with ongoing series already in development at Cinar, such as Postcards from Buster, Mona the Vampire and Creep School (with Alphanim), Cookie Jar will be announcing three new TV projects in the next couple of months, all slated for completion in 2005.
Funding this development activity may involve some of Cookie Jar’s other divisions, including Carson-Dellosa and HighReach Learning. These educational publishing houses are doing a very steady business right now, with Carson Dellosa’s catalogue hitting 1.8 million teachers twice a year, and HighReach selling curricula directly to 6,000 daycares. Taylor says this sector still has plenty of growth potential, including in the areas of ESL products and retail distribution, and the two divisions will become more closely linked to the entertainment side of Cookie Jar’s business.
Hirsh and Taylor intend to expand Cookie Jar’s licensing and merchandising activities, particularly now that there will be a more diverse slate of TV properties to work with. The company is also on the hunt for new acquisitions in both the entertainment and educational arenas.