Warner Bros. heads into the Wild
East of retail with first Shanghai store
Warner Bros. Consumer Products has teamed up with PMW Retail Group, a subsidiary of Chinese toy manufacturer Hutchison Harbour Ring, to open its first retail stores in China. According to Jeff Whalen, WBCP senior VP of international licensing, there are plans to follow up the March opening of the Warner Bros. flagship store in Shanghai with 200 more outlets across mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau over the next few years. WBCP, like several Western IP owners of late, has its sights set on wooing China’s growing young-consumer market that right now stands at 280 million people ages zero to 14.
U.K.-hatched properties score global
toy deals with major State-side players
April was a good month for U.K.-based IP houses Ragdoll and Entertainment Rights on the master toy front. Perhaps looking for a Teletubbies-sized success, Hasbro has signed on as worldwide master toy licensee for Ragdoll’s CGI/live-action early preschool series In the Night Garden. BBC Worldwide, the program distribution and licensing rights holder outside of North America, helped shepherd the deal that will see preschool toys, games, jigsaw puzzles and creative play items based on the series hit U.K. retail shelves in fall 2007, with a U.S. rollout expected to follow in 2008. The Beeb has commissioned 100, half-hour episodes for an ’07 delivery, while a North American broadcast deal has yet to be announced. At the same time, ER snagged Fisher-Price as its master toy partner in all territories excluding North America and Japan for the upcoming Postman Pat spin-off Guess with Jess. The CGI preschool show follows Pat’s feline companion Jess as she tries to answer questions such as ‘Why does snow melt?’ and is slated to hit BBC1, 2 and Cbeebies this fall.