China Toy Fair


Mattel Launches Playground Productions Creative Storytelling Division

Mattel.PlaygroundMattel Inc. has announced the formation of Playground Productions, a new division within the Mattel Global Brands group dedicated to the creation and development of strategic multiplatform storytelling. Playground Productions will drive creative storytelling across all Mattel brands, including Barbie, Monster High, and Max Steel, along with the development and launch of the new animation Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome debuting next year.

Playground Productions has brought on Mercury Filmworks for the project in a story that delivers new Hot Wheels thrills in three formats including a 22-minute origin story for spring, 11 humorous two-minute action-packed shorts for the summer, and a 74-minute direct-to-video movie for the fall.

Additionally, Playground Productions will manage and provide creative direction for the recently announced live-action feature film for Max Steel. In co-development with Dolphin Films, the movie will have a wide release in theaters next year. The division is also partnering with Columbia Pictures on an upcoming Masters of the Universe theatrical project.

Ubisoft and Sony Pictures Collaborate for Watch Dogs Movie

WatchDogUbisoft has announced that its film and television division, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, is collaborating with Sony Pictures Entertainment and New Regency on a film based on Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s open-world action-adventure video game. Ubisoft and Sony will also release the Watch Dogs gameplay that will be available for PlayStation 4 this holiday.

Watch Dogs centers on Aiden Pearce, a hacker inflicting his own brand of justice after a violent family tragedy. Using his skills, Pearce hacks into Chicago’s Central Operating System (ctOS), which controls the city’s infrastructure. In the game, Pearce turns the entire city of Chicago into his ultimate weapon. The game received awards at E3 2012, including Best of Show from GamingExcellence and three awards (Biggest Surprise, Best New Franchise, and Best PC Game) from IGN. The game also won GameSpot’s People’s Choice Most Exciting Game of E3 2013.

Ubisoft Motion Pictures will oversee the project at Ubisoft, and at Columbia, Hannah Minghella and Sam Dickerman will oversee development while Alexandra Milchan and Andrew Calof will work on the film for New Regency.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Teams Up with the Smurfs

SmurfetteCGIBuild-A-Bear Workshop will introduce its second collection of Smurf characters in honor of Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs 2, in theaters July 31. Find the newest friends from the film, Vexy and Hackus, joining Smurfette on their latest adventure at Build-A-Bear Workshop and online at buildabear.com.

To celebrate the Smurfs’ arrival, Build-A-Bear Workshop is holding an #IlovemySmurf Instagram contest. Guests are invited to take a picture of their Smurfs plush from Build-A-Bear Workshop and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #IlovemySmurf in their Instagram photo. Images will be judged on a set of criteria and the five best photos will win. Winners will receive a $50 Bear Buck$ gift card. The contest runs from July 12- July 21.

Make-your-own Smurfette, Vexy, and Hackus can be outfitted in a variety of Smurfs clothing and accessories, including Smurfette dress, Smurfette and Vexy pajamas, Smurf BFF slippers, Vexy skirt outfit, Smurf hoodie, and Smurfs theme song (La La Song).

Global Smurfs Day Events to Be Held Worldwide June 22

SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT GLOBAL SMURFS DAYColumbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation will once again coordinate events all over the world on June 22 as part of Global Smurfs Day, a worldwide event in anticipation of the release of The Smurfs 2, in theaters July 31. Global Smurfs Day celebrates the birthday of Peyo, the creator of the Smurfs, born June 25, 1928.

This will be the second celebration of Global Smurfs Day. In 2011, the round-the-world events included painting one of the famous White Towns of Andalusia blue and setting a new record for Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Smurfs within a 24-hour period. This year, the studio has lined up a program of events, highlighted by a worldwide Smurf Ambassadors initiative, in which more than 40 ambassadors from 28 countries will represent Smurfs fans from around the world with a special day of events celebrating Peyo’s creation. [Read more...]

The Smurfs Celebrate “America the Bluetiful” to Help Preserve the Environment

SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA THE BLUETIFULIn anticipation of the worldwide release of Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs 2 on July 31, and in honor of the Smurfs’ message of harmony with the environment, the studio is orchestrating a nationwide series of environmental efforts celebrating “America the Bluetiful,” in which kids and their parents can meet the Smurfs as they clean up their local parks, encourage recycling, plant trees, and discover other ways they can help “bluetify” the U.S.

Highlights of the initiatives include:

  • Boston: the Smurfs will join in cleaning up Canal Park at CambridgeSide Galleria and planting blue flowers
  • Minneapolis: the Smurfs were a part of the Grand Old Day celebration, where Twin Cities residents were encouraged to recycle
  • Chicago: the Smurfs were at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where staff was on hand with ecology activities and community ecology information
  • Philadelphia: kids and Smurfs will clean up a recreation center and bluetify a city garden
  • Atlanta: kids have taken a pledge at Georgia Aquarium to bluetify the country
  • St. Louis: the Smurfs will help pick up trash in Kiener Plaza
  • San Francisco: the Smurfs will work with San Francisco Recreation and Parks to plant, mulch, and clean up Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park
  • San Diego: the Surfs and kids will participate in a beach cleanup day

As the Smurfs check in to each city, audiences can participate online at AmericaTheBluetiful.com, where they can vote on their favorite landmarks to “bluetify”—literally turning them blue online.

Britney Spears to Release New Song for New Smurfs Movie

smurfs2Britney Spears will release a song for Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation‘s family comedy The Smurfs 2, titled “Ooh La La,” via Kemosabe/RCA Records. “Ooh La La” will play at the end credits of the film. The Smurfs 2, the sequel to the hybrid live action/animated film released in 2011, is set to hit theaters on July 31.

Spears says, “I have always loved the Smurfs as a kid and now my boys are the biggest Smurfs fans ever. I wanted to surprise them with a song in the movie. I know they’ll think it’s Smurftastic!”

Fall Toy Preview: Pressman Prepares for The Smurfs

In anticipation of next summer’s release of the Columbia Pictures’/Sony Pictures Animation’s 3-D movie The Smurfs, in theaters August 3, Pressman Toy Corporation has signed a deal to create games and puzzles based on the movie. In this big-screen release, the Smurfs are chased out of their village by the evil Gargamel and wind up in New York City’s Central Park. The little blue creatures must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down.

Pressman Toy’s preschool games and puzzles are all priced under $20 with many options under $10. Games based on the movie will include Race to Smurfs Village, Don’t Drop Clumsy Board Game, Smurfs Follow Your Nose Dominoes, as well as Smurfs Pop ‘N Race, Make a Match, Big Roll Bingo, and a special spinning card game starring Clumsy Smurf. The products will be available at mass market and specialty stores nationwide in July 2011. Additionally, Pressman Toy will introduce a line of 24-piece puzzles featuring real movie scenes.

For more Fall Toy Preview coverage, pick up The Toy Book’s September/October issue!

New Hero to Wear Spider-Man’s Mask

Following a worldwide search for the next Spider-Man, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios selected Andrew Garfield to play Peter Parker. Garfield’s upcoming works include The Social Network, about the founding of Facebook, and Never Let Me Go, which he stars alongside Keira Knightley.

The next film, set to release July 3, 2012, is based on a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and will be directed by Marc Webb. Previous Peter Parker star Tobey Maguire reportedly left the project, along with director Sam Raimi, following setbacks.