SeaWorld, the brand wrapped around 10 marine-themed amusement parks across the US, has taken its first steps into the kids entertainment biz with its newly formed SeaWorld Pictures division.
Family entertainment and marketing vet Scott Helmstedter, tapped as chief creative officer, says the division is an expansion initiative of SeaWorld’s new parent company, venture capital firm Blackstone.
“The company has new goals and a new vision to take our message, our brand and our content outside of the parks,” says Helmstedter.
Prior to joining SeaWorld, Helmstedter co-founded and served as president of L.A.-based In Motion Entertainment, where he developed and produced projects for Disney, Universal, Sony, MTV, Fox and ABC, and consulted on the production of several SeaWorld live shows.
The division launched this spring with the release of Turtle: The Incredible Journey, SeaWorld’s first feature film for the North American market. The film follows the migration of a loggerhead turtle from hatching to maturity, and its return to its nesting grounds—a perfect fit with the division’s mandate to produce content about connecting and caring for the natural world. (The limited US release to 24 theaters in late June, earned US$2,891 per location on its opening weekend, according to online boxoffice database, Box Office Mojo.)
Helmstedter says the company is also exploring TV and animated content, which will be produced within their own divisions. At press time, he couldn’t give details on the yet-to-be-named divisions or their development slates, but says there are several projects in the pipeline in-house and with partners that will be announced in coming months. Beyond that, he says the company is very focused on the kids space and will be on the hunt for new live-action and animated projects at MIPCOM next month and Kidscreen Summit 2012.
Additionally, Helmstedter says SeaWorld has plans to expand its currently modest consumer products program and further leverage its library of music and the more than 30,000 hours of film footage amassed since the first park opened in 1964. It depicts rescues, conservation activities and SeaWorld’s menagerie of animals.