The 57-year-old Trolls property has a snazzy refreshed look, thanks to a DreamWorks Animation CGI-makeover. And for all the traditionalists out there, don’t worry, DWA didn’t mess with the hair.
The Glendale, California-based animation company is set to launch its new 3D Trolls film globally between mid-October and early December. New York Toy Fair attendees, meanwhile, got a first look at the robust Hasbro-anchored Trolls L&M program ahead of product launches this fall.
The new Trolls merch is based on the iconic property owned by Denmark’s Dam Things, to which DWA acquired L&M rights in 2013. (It’s not to be confused with DIC Entertainment’s 2005 interpretation, Trollz, which became the focus of a US$20-million lawsuit in 2007.)
DreamWorks’ version of Trolls definitely draws on the DNA of the original Good Luck Trolls first created by Danish fisherman Thomas Dam in the late 1950s. But their current design is noticeably new and fresh, says Jim Fielding, DreamWorks Animation’s global head of consumer products.
What makes the IP unique, Fielding says, is that its roots lie in the classic collector play pattern and its well-known global heritage and history. And as for the upcoming Trolls film, it was written, directed and produced by the same DreamWorks team behind the Shrek franchise, which has scored more than US$1.4 billion at the global box office.
Fielding says the film will aim to attract a broad family demographic, but the CP program has a narrower focus. Roughly 85% to 90% of the new merch is aimed at girls six to 11. “There is product for the male side as well,” he notes. “We think the blind bag Trolls figurines will definitely be dual-gender in their collectibility.”
In addition to global master toy partner Hasbro (figures, plush, play sets, games), the Trolls program includes: Random House Children’s Books (publishing), Hallmark (greeting cards, gift bags, ornaments), Franco Manufacturing (bedding, bath, beach), Trends International (posters, calendars, stickers), H.I.S. International (sportswear), Editorial Planeta (Spain/Portugal storybooks, activity books, sticker books), Ravensburger (2D/3D puzzles, arts and crafts), Clementoni (pan-European puzzles) and Procos (pan-European party wares). Products will be available in each of the film’s markets, across all levels of retail, in the four to five weeks before its big-screen debut.
When asked what sparked interest in licensing the Trolls property, Fielding points to the fact that everything at DreamWorks begins with the question—is there a good story to tell? And Trolls, which never had an origin story written about it, more than fit the bill.
“There was folklore and mythology, but no official backstory. I think the film development team found that really interesting,” he explains. “The key for the whole thing was quality storytelling that is unique and truly DreamWorks, with fun and humor, and I think the creative team really gave it that kind of feel.”
Filled with original songs and a star-studded voice cast, Trolls tells an epic and comedic story of the overly optimistic Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), who enlists the help of a hilarious and grumpy survivalist troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) to rescue her unusual assortment of friends.
While DreamWorks is “laser-focused” right now on the film, its consumer products and the subsequent home entertainment release planned for spring 2017, Fielding says there are a variety of additional content ideas in development to grow the property even further in the coming years. “None of which I can announce yet,” he jests. “But we definitely will be supporting this franchise for years to come.”