With Power Rangers back in the house, Saban Brands is gearing up to relaunch the property. With a transmedia plan and global distribution strategy in-hand, the company intends to breathe new life into the once-ubiquitous brand that in recent years experienced a noticeable drop in visibility on both TV screens and retail shelves.
Re-acquired from Disney for a reported US$100 million this spring, Power Rangers is the first property handpicked by newly established Saban Brands, founded by media mogul Haim Saban to acquire and manage IPs.
After a decade with Disney, Saban is busy revamping the IP that helped propel Fox Kids’ international presence in the mid-1990s. A new 18th season will be broadcast on Nick US with delivery set for the first quarter of 2011. A full 40 episodes are in the works, joining a back catalogue of 740 half hours produced by both Disney and Saban, which will also strategically air on Nicktoons and Nick.
So, how to re-imagine a property with such an extensive history? Saban Brands president Elie Dekel says that the upcoming two seasons are tapping into Japan’s storied martial arts practices for Power Rangers Samurai. The new series and theme sees the next generation of teens-turned-superheroes mastering the samurai sword to gain control over the elements of fire, water, sky, forest and earth, as they battle dark forces of the underworld.
‘We believe it can be more than what it has been recently, and we are producing more episodes and have brought back the original producer of the series,’ says Dekel.
Besides being central to the story arc of the TV series and online/interactive content, the samurai theme will be central to a new line of consumer products from toy partner Bandai and other products from the property’s licensees that are in the process of transitioning from working with Disney to Saban.
Dekel says going forward, the series is taking on a brighter tone and getting an infusion of fun and comedy that wasn’t present in seasons 16 and 17. Saban is also working on building a new website (www.powerrangers.com), which will be integrated with Nickelodeon. The site will launch with games and eventually add more immersive content, including an online world and social media elements. Handheld and console games for Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo platforms are also in development.
Meanwhile, L.A.-based MarVista Entertainment has come on-board to handle international distribution, and Dekel says catalogue episodes that were airing as different seasons in various territories will be presented in a more cohesive fashion.
‘We’re going to establish more continuity market to market by introducing Samurai globally at one time and by managing the catalogue more strategically around the world,’ says Dekel.
And that’s not all on the content front for Saban Brands. Since acquiring design house Paul Frank Industries this summer, Saban is working up a transmedia strategy for Paul Frank’s 150-plus characters, particularly iconic monkey Julius, that includes content and licensing & merchandising plans. Saban is now managing the design house’s business strategy and global licensing program, while creative operations will remain based in Paul Frank’s Costa Mesa, California headquarters.
Dekel says Saban is crafting a strategy that will include the production of TV, digital, social media and ultimately film content.