It’s not often that licensees are presented with a 20-year opportunity on a new property, and that’s what Al Ovadia (Al Ovadia & Associates) and fellow executive producer Bruce Auerbach (Brubach Co.) are counting on as they take 10-film series Galactic Academy to market. With the first 44-minute CGI picture in the final stages of financing and slated to debut late next year, a new title in the Encyclopedia Britannica-sponsored series should roll out every two years. And Ovadia is looking for toy, video game and home entertainment partners that want to tap into the growing edutainment trend for the long haul.
The plan is to eventually evolve Galactic Academy into an umbrella brand that parents looking to help their kids learn through play will come to trust. ‘If you look at the normal proposition in movie licensing, titles tend to be six weeks at retail and out,’ says Ovadia. However, he notes, most educational films are exhibited for at least three years, and the Galactic Academy series is being refreshed every two with films focusing on science topics ranging from geology to biology. The titles will play in schools, at large-format theaters and on TV year-round, and will also get classroom support via study guides that are targeted for distribution in some 300,000 schools across the US.
The films are being created by Midland Productions, producer of large-format, Imax-type films and 4-D amusement park rides that incorporate film, lights, sound and movement. In the first astronomy-themed pic, Universe, kids in grades three to six will be introduced to Galactic Academy student Switch (and his robot dog Beamer), who finds himself in an academic competition against his archrival. During the course of the film, Switch traces the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to present day. Educational advisors are a key part of scripting, says Ovadia. And on Universe, the team has enlisted the help of a professional astronomer to get the facts straight.
With a 20-year rollout, says Ovadia, it’s likely that the first group of kids will end up sharing the property with their children.