London’s Acamar Films is busy prepping a live stage-show adaptation of its flagship animated series Bing—an interesting strategy considering the social distancing measures are still very much in place. But once these restrictions lift and people can gather again, Kirsty Southgate, Acamar’s director of promotions and partnerships, believes people will be back out in force.
Partnering with Dutch theater production company Trend Media, Acamar is adapting Bing for audiences in the Netherlands and Belgium. The CG-animated series revolves around the daily adventures of characters as they grow up and face unique preschool challenges, such as using the toilet or seeing something scary. The brand has attracted large audiences and generated strong fan affinity in the two countries, where the show is available on Zappelin and Ketnet, says Southgate. The live show is scheduled to start in fall 2021 and will be an interactive musical that blends laughter and dance while following Bing and his friends on a new adventure. It is part of a four-year deal to co-produce an hour-long musical for kids two to five.
The pandemic has shut down live theaters and productions around the world. And the cost of these closures could total up to around US$12 billion in lost entertainment revenue for the US, according to Forbes.
But the stats don’t worry Acamar Films. By lining up events now, the company is able to tap into a building demand from audiences that, after so much time stuck at home, are hungry to get out and see a show, says Southgate.
“The experiential sector has been on hold for several months, and venues and the hospitality industry are slowly starting to reopen,” she says. “Live performances are already returning across Europe. The theater industry works on quite a long lead time, and we’re confident that by [fall next year], theaters will have adapted and the pandemic will be a distant memory.”
For Trend Media, building up a slate of new live events now gives it an opportunity to grab a foothold in the European theater industry, which should pay off as soon as people start returning to see shows, says CEO Erik van Trommel. There are fewer theatrical IPs being readied now, and he believes it’s a good time to launch a new brand on stage as a result of that supply shortage.
Bing (104 x seven minutes) launched in 2014 on British pubcaster CBeebies. Since then, it has been picked up by a number of broadcasters, including RAI (Italy), Fox Kids (Finland), ABC (Australia) and SVT (Sweden). More recently, BBC commissioned a second season order of the series, and ahead of the launch the prodco unveiled a freemium education/streaming app to directly monetize the property’s audience.
In other Acamar Films news, the company is growing with several new hires. First up, former 21st Century Fox exec Louise Simmonds was tapped as head of UK licensing and merchandising. She joined in February as a consultant, and was appointed to this new role permanently in June. Acamar also promoted senior licensing manager Laura Clarke to head of licensing and merchandising in EMEA in April. Prior to joining Acamar, Clarke was Mattel’s group director of CP for EMEA.