Magazine article Variety

Hasbro Co-Prods a Go

Magazine article Variety

Hasbro Co-Prods a Go

Article excerpt

Western companies looking to reach Chinese auds have long been daunted by high regulatory and creative hurdles, a problem Hasbro Studios - the entertainment arm of the toymaker behind "Transformers" and "My Little Pony" - is solving with localized co-productions.

Up first is "DoPei Le Doh," a localized mix of liveaction and animation based on Hasbro's Play-Doh brand. The show is a co-production with Toonmax, part of the Shanghai Media Group, and its 52 episodes will air in primetime on China's second-largest children's channel.

The company has long done business with China, with a manufacturing relationship that runs back almost 30 years, says Hasbro Studios prexy Stephen Davis.

As branded entertainment opportunities opened up in China, it became clear that getting the maximum return and benefit for Hasbro's retail strategy required more than just importing or modifying existing content.

"Unlike a lot of other territories in the world, both from a creative as well as from a regulatory perspective, the most impactful content that's getting on in primetime is local Chinese content," he says.

Hasbro is already at work on localizing its "Family Game Night" format for China; the format has already been successfully localized with Spain's Boing.

Hasbro also has been striking up co-productions for animated content, and the studio is making such programs in nine countries to take advantage of local tax structures and co-production funding.

The opportunities on a co-production and tax structure basis are probably better now than I can remember in the 20-plus years I've been in this business," Davis says.

Such co-productions are likely to become a key way for companies to reach a massive Chinese market that is slowly opening to non-domestic content but still subject to quota limitations on foreign films and broadcasts, says Kevin Geiger. The animation industry veteran has been based in Beijing since 2008 as prexy and CEO of animation development company Magic Dumpling Entertainment.

"It's important not only to localize the co-production content for domestic audience acceptance, but also to get the branding and economic metrics right for domestic market acceptance," says Geiger.

The branded-play strategy has been a hit for the toymaker, especially overseas. The company's 2011 annual report showed international revenues up 19% to $1. …

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