Universal Brand Development celebrates E.T.’s 40th birthday

Universal Brand Development (UBD) has given a first glimpse of the 2022 product launches marking the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic properties in cinema history – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

The birthday of the much-loved film from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment will be marked with a curated mix of special screenings, new consumer products, digital and social media campaigns as well as unique retail activations that aim to capture the magic and timeless appeal of the movie.

“It is simply a masterpiece and still invokes such a strong connection and reaction from global audiences,” says Paul Bufton, Vice President, EMEA at NBCUniversal Brand Development. “It is also a particularly good time for this anniversary because recently so many families have rediscovered, together, the immense joy of the film. Parents have watched E.T. and the kids, of course, now love it as much as the previous generation – quality storytelling and genuine emotion never get old.”

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial altered the pop culture landscape when it was released in June 1982, the story of a lost alien and the young boy who helps him to find his way home resonating with audiences worldwide. The film was one of the first global blockbusters to leverage consumer product tie-ins and the new campaign will be replete with nostalgic references that aim to please both the casual fan and the growing community of enthusiasts and collectors.

To mark E.T.’s anniversary, UBD has lined up a roster of global licensees to fully explore the product possibilities with organic extensions that leverage the toyetic and kidult appeal of the property. Toymaker Mattel has signed on to create E.T. feature plush, while additional global partnerships include Funko & Fisher Price (collectibles), WOW! Stuff (novelty), Tomy (pre-school plush), Basic Fun (retro collections) and Ravensburger (puzzles). UK-specific partnerships have been forged with Posh Paws (plush), RMS (amusement toys) and Nobel (chess).

In the UK, there is a robust Fashion & Lifestyle programme that includes babywear launches from Poetic Brands, Crib Star and Sleep no More to meet the newest generation’s demand for E.T.-branded clothing. A slew of new adult soft lines are also set for release in the UK from established names such as BooHoo, Poetic Brands and Fashion UK.

On the global fashion front, UBD has ensured that the E.T. programme will be prominently spotlighted in high-end boutiques and elite shopping destinations across Europe throughout 2022. New partnerships with some of the most influential retailers across the continent include Difuzed (adult/young adult apparel and accessories), Mini Rodini (kids apparel and home textiles) and popular fast fashion online platforms such as Zalando, AboutYou and EMP. H&M Kids is putting the finishing touches on its exclusive offerings that will be launched later this year.

In addition, a replica of Elliot’s iconic BMX bike will hit mass retail later in the year (E.T. riding in the basket not included).



Mattel’s classic Rock ‘Em Sock’ Em Robots game heads to big screen with Universal and Vin Diesel

The classic battling robot tabletop game, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots is heading to the screen as plans to develop a live-action motion picture starring Vin Diesel get underway.

The project is the combined efforts of Mattel Films and Universal Pictures, who are working with Vin Diesel’s own production company, One Race Films. Mattel Films will prodcue the project alongside Diesel and Samantha Vincent from One Race Films.

The action adventure film will follow a father and son who form an unlikely bond with an advanced war machine. The project will be led by Kevin McKeon of Mattel Films.

“To take the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em game, with Mattel as my partner, and align it with the kind of world building, franchise making success we have had with Universal, is truly exciting,” said Vin Diesel.

“We are proud to bring this iconic piece of Mattel IP to life on the big screen with our tremendously talented partners Vin Diesel, One Race Films and Universal,” added Robbie Brenner, executive producer of Mattel Films.

“Our rich library of franchises continues to yield compelling stories and we look forward to creating what is sure to be a thrilling action adventure for the whole family to enjoy with Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.”

Launched in 1966, the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game was inspired by an arcade boxing game which pitted Red Rocker against Blue Bomber in a fight to knock his rival’s block off. A staple in pop culture since its debut, the brand’s bright and bold gameplay has appeared in films, television shows and commercials over the past five decades.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots is the second project between Mattel Films and Universal Pictures, which are also developing a movie based on the Wishbone television series.

Other Mattel Films projects in development including movies based on American Girl, Barbie, Barney, Hot Wheels, Magic 8 Ball, Major Matt Mason, Masters of the Universe, Thomas & Friends, UNO, and View-Master.

Diesel is represented by CAA and Linden Entertainment. Engle is represented by CAA.

Wow! Stuff unleashes new Jurassic World line up with flying toys, collectables, and more

Wow! Stuff is continuing to expand its portfolio of hit licensed brands with the addition of Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s blockbuster franchise, Jurassic World.

Under the new partnership, Wow! Stuff will unleash a series of collectables and flying toys based on the iconic Pteranadon, including the Pteranadon Jump Rocket that sends the flying dinosaur 50 feet skywards, as well as the new Dino-Glider featuring a jet motor that powers its dinosaur along a circular flight path.

And this is just the tip of the prehistoric iceberg of the range currently in development. The range will also be joined by an extension to Wow! Stuff’s popular collectable Wow! Pods – the ‘swipe to light’ collectable that hit the number one best-seller spot on Amazon last November.

Jurassic World Wow! Pods SFX feature a special effects sound mode. Kids can ‘swipe to light’ to reveal hidden icons inside the hexapod while they Clap to Roar to release dinosaur roars authentic tothe sounds of those in the Jurassic World franchise.

Dialing up the cute factor within the new collection is Wow! Stuff’s own innovative take on dinosaur hatching with the Drop ‘n Pop dinosaur egg like no other. Kids can simply drop the egg onto a hard surface and watch it pop open to reveal a soft plush dinosaur. The line features both Bumpy – the baby dinosaur featured in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, or the infamous T-Rex.

When popped open, the dinosaur sits at the base of its egg, making it the ideal item for display. They are also easy to squash back into the eggshell and re-seal.

Kenny McAndrew, director of new product development and licensing at Wow! Stuff, said: “The Wow! Stuff way is to continually innovate in our product development so that we truly ‘WOW’ the fans of great tier one brands.

“Jurassic World has been a fabulous brand to work on with its rich story lines and evergreen status. It’s one of the biggest and most loved brands in the industry and also the undisputed leader of the dinosaur toy category. We believe the fans are going to love the range we’ve created.”

The range is expected to land on shelves from June this year.

Universal Brand Development opens vault to Disguise Inc for new Halloween dress up items

The costumes specialist, Disguise Inc has expanded upon its North American partnership with Universal Brand Development to design, manufacture, and distribute Halloween costumes, accessories, inflatables, and more based on some of its most popular properties.

The expanded collaboration will mark the first time that Disguise has held multi-year portfolio rights for Universal properties, spanning the studio’s library of feature films, TV, vault and horror brands.

As part of the deal, Disguise is designing a new version of the popular inflatable Jurassic World T Rex costume to include updated innovations and modifications.

“Universal Brand Development’s portfolio is so versatile that it makes for a spectacular costume range – from franchise blockbusters like Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s Jurassic World, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls and Illumination’s Minions to horror properties like Universal Pictures’ Frankenstein and Dracula to an amazing array of streaming properties and a massive vault of classic films,” said Tara Hefter, EVP and GM of Disguise Inc.

“Disguise is beyond thrilled to be collaborating with Universal Brand Development in such a meaningful way. And we look forward to the ultimate roll-out of our Halloween costumes and accessories later in 2021.”

Owned by JAKKS Pacific, Disguise is a leader in design and development of costumes and accessories with distribution across the world. Universal provides an array of new and classic characters to create a new line of products.

Disguise’s Halloween costumes and accessories for Universal Brand Development will be available online, at major retailers and Halloween specialty stores across the US from this autumn.

Universal Pictures celebrates 35 years of Back to the Future with major campaign

From fan created content, Amazon exclusives, and a whole host of toys, games and more, this year, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment are taking fans of the Back to the Future franchise on an 88mph journey across the categories to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the iconic time-travelling series.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads… but it may be time to upgrade your television as fans around the world can now look forward to more fan-created content, as well as the 4K Ultra HD release of the Back to the Future Trilogy, so you can watch the moment George McFly lands Biff that world-celebrated bop on the conk in the clearest of definitions.

On top of this, retail exclusives and new consumer products have all been rolling out across the retail space throughout the month, ahead of the fan created Back to the Future Day holiday today, Wednesday, October 21st 2020.

“Very few franchises in Hollywood history have shown the kind of staying power of Back to the Future,” said Bob Gale, co-writer and co-producer of the trilogy.

“To be celebrating 35 years of this iconic film series – through incredible product collections and fan-created content from around the world – is truly a testament to the heart of the film itself. Yes, it’s a sci-fi adventure, but it’s also about family and the fans’ emotional connection to the characters – which is something everyone can relate to, no matter what generation or time-traveling decade you’re from.”

As part of the 35th anniversary celebrations, Universal Brand Development partnered with content creation platform Tongal to invite animators and fans from around the world to recreate their favorite scenes from the original Back to the Future film.

Eight creators – from Uruguay to Ireland to Brazil – were greenlit to bring their ideas to life. The videos have been rolling out on the Back to the Future Facebook fan page over the last few days, with a final compilation video debuting today to coincide with the anniversary.

The fan creators attached to the eight videos (+ one edited compilation) represent a global and diverse fandom of this beloved time-traveling franchise:

  • “Marty’s Dream Amp” by Javier Benia O’Neill – Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
  • “The First Time Traveller” by Elliot Ruddy – Dublin, Ireland
  • “Alien in the Barn” by Crankub Animation Studio (Martí Montañola and Sara Esteban) – Barcelona, Spain
  • “Marty McFly and the Butterfly Effect” by Bethany Borg – Malta
  • “A Visitor in the Night” by Neto Rodrigues and Gabis Fromme – São Paulo, Brazil
  • “Race for Surviving” by Calaveres Animació (Javier Asensio, María Larín, Nicole Herrera and Felipe Armand) – Valencia, Spain
  • “Fateful Punch” by Eric Power – Austin, Tex.
  • “Cardboard Cute-Out” by Team Explainly (Max Naff, Alex Hagan, Derik Smith, Sam Naff, Elizabeth Abreu, Andy Toizer and Ben Jackson) – San Francisco, Calif.
  • Compilation video edited by Firman Machda – Bandung, Indonesia

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment celebrates the 35th Anniversary of the groundbreaking first film with Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy available now on 4K Ultra HD for the first time. This collection includes all three movies in collectible discbook packaging.

Additionally, it is loaded with bonus material including an extra disc that comes with over an hour of new content, such as rare audition footage from Hollywood stars Ben Stiller, Kyra Sedgwick, Jon Cryer, Billy Zane, Peter DeLuise and C. Thomas Howell; a tour of the film’s props and memorabilia hosted by co-writer/producer Bob Gale; a sneak peek at the new musical show; a special episode of the popular YouTube Series “Could You Survive The Movies?;” and more.

In celebration of Back to the Future Day today, Amazon will be hosting a dedicated Back to the Future storefront, where fans of all ages can find something that will take them back in time. If fans checkout using smile.amazon.com/backtothefuture and select the “Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research” as your charity choice, a portion of sales will be donated to that charity.

It’s your kids Marty, something has to be done about your kids… and indeed, Universal has that demographic covered. First up, Playmobil has gone back to the future with a model of the iconic DeLorean that features folding wheels for hover mode, doors which open upwards, an illuminated flux capacitor inside and illuminated exterior.

Also included is plutonium, which can be inserted at the back of the vehicle. The play-set is complete with Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown in their outfits from 1985 plus a plutonium case, skateboard, remote control and Einstein, the dog.

Fans can also countdown to the holidays at 88MPH with this the Playmobil Advent Calendar: Back to the Future that includes Marty McFly, Emmett “Doc” Brown, Jennifer Parker, and Biff Tannen, along with a highly detailed model of the Hill Valley courthouse with its iconic clock tower, plus lots of accessories from the classic cult film, all with great attention to detail.

Meanwhile, Hasbro has launched the Transformers Back to the Future Gigawatt figure and IDW Comic Series, bringing together two iconic brands both in figure and comic book form for the first time.

Hasbro is in good company in the toy aisle which also features Funko’s commemorative range of character collectibles, JADA with Back to the Future vehicles and remote- control toys, puzzles from Ravensburger, Rainbow for plush and Rubber Road for adult gifting and toys.

GB Eye and Pyramid are on board for stationery and gifting and GB Eye has also taken the license for posters whilst RMS has pocket money purchases and stocking fillers covered this Christmas.

In soft lines, the HYPE Back to the Future collection nods at the franchise era, the 1980s, with expressive designs in a monochrome and neon colour palette. The HYPE. stamp features enlarged graphics, all-over prints, contrasting flames, and illusion checkerboard with a cyberpunk aesthetic, whilst embracing the ’80s grunge trend.

Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus lands feature length film deal

The Magic School Bus is heading to the big screen for the first time in its 26-year history, thanks to a new deal between Scholastic Entertainment, Brownstone Productions, Marc Platt Productions, and Universal Pictures.

The feature length, live action hybrid film will star Elizabeth Banks as the widely-popular Ms Frizzle. Banks will also take on a producer role alongside Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions, as well as Scholastic’s president and chief strategy officer Iole Luchesse and SVP and general manager, Caitlin Friedman.

“We are delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day,” said Lucchese.

“We’re also extremely excited to be working with such top-tier partners as Elizabeth Banks, Marc Platt Productions, Brownstone Productions, Universal Pictures, and all of the amazing talent assembled for this noteworthy feature film.”

Ryan Christians from Marc Platt Productions will oversee production with Sara Scott and Lexi Barta from Universal Pictures.

The upcoming The Magic School Bus film is based on the best-selling Scholastic book series by author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen, now with over 80 million books in print worldwide. The science-focused series features the intrepid Ms. Frizzle and her class, who set out on field trips in their familiar-looking yellow school bus that magically transforms into a plane, submarine, spaceship, or surfboard, depending on the science concept being explored.

The popular books were first adapted into an animated TV series, featuring Lily Tomlin in the starring role as Ms. Frizzle, on PBS in 1994. The show aired for 18 consecutive years in the US and has been broadcast in more than 100 countries around the world, making it the longest-running kids science series in history

The standout program has earned more than 100 prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award, Annenberg Award and National Education Association Award. The Magic School Bus has also garnered high praise from parents and educators for making science education fun and appealing to all audiences.

An animated sequel to the original series, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, featuring Kate McKinnon (SNL) as Ms. Frizzle’s sister, Fiona, debuted on Netflix in 2017. Multi-award-winning composer/lyricist/playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights) sang the theme song.