Get yer’ popcorn and peanuts, because Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is climbing into a canon and launching itself into the kids entertainment business.
The Canadian company acquired Minnesota’s VStar Entertainment Group—along with its circus arts subsidiary Cirque Dreams based in Florida—in July. VStar produces family- and kid-friendly theatrical shows, exhibits, cruise ship shows and outdoor events. The entertainment production company recently partnered with Nickelodeon on the live entertainment production Bubble Guppies Live! Ready to Rock, and produced both PAW Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue and PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure. Cirque Dreams, meanwhile, produces and operates family-friendly tours and shows in theaters and at tourism venues around the world.
“For the past few years, we’ve been looking for opportunities to diversify our content,” says Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of of Cirque du Soleil. With the acquisition of VStar, he says Cirque is reaching new audiences and expanding its creative and production capabilities.
“We are establishing ourselves as a global leader in live entertainment for kids and families,” Lamarre says.
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group currently has 29 shows in production around the world for audiences of all ages.
Moving forward, Cirque will leverage its network of contacts to expand VStar’s international reach, and work to increase the number of shows VStar produces, as well as the number of IPs it partners with.
“We want to keep VStar as autonomous as possible,” Lamarre says. “What it’s producing is very different, and these shows are incredibly appealing to its core audience. We respect that.”
Beyond the acquisition of VStar, Cirque du Soleil’s ongoing efforts to increase its kids offerings also includes the launch of family entertainment centers.
Creactive indoor family entertainment centers will feature immersive experiences including aerial parkour, trampolines, mask design, juggling and dance. The centers are an evolution of Cirque’s Club Med Creactive locations (currently available in the Dominican Republic and France), with the first location set to open its doors in Toronto, Canada in September 2019. An additional five centers are scheduled to follow.
“Creactive and the live shows feed into each other,” Lamarre says. “Creactive is the perfect springboard to launch kids into the Cirque family—they get to experience what the performers experience. In the same way, the shows lead families to the entertainment centers because kids see the performances and want to do
And according to Lamarre, the new live shows and family entertainment centers will also support Cirque’s consumer products business.
He says the company will enhance its merchandising program and use VStar’s live entertainment platform and global distribution network to integrate plug-and-play creative content designed for families into future shows, including those featuring kid-focused IPs like PAW Patrol or Bubble Guppies.
“Kids will love how immersive these experiences are,” Lamarre says. “They’ll want to bring a piece of it home with them.”