CREATIVE LICENSING’S STEPHANIE MARLIS KUPPERMAN LIFTS THE LID ON GIVING CLASSIC MOVIES THE BOARD GAME TREATMENT
Founded in 1982 and based in LA, Creative Licensing Corporation is responsible for bringing a raft of classic movies into the world of toys, games and other merchandise.
With partnerships spanning everything from Re-Animator action figures to a Terminator board game, CLC has also enjoyed recent success in the world of Kickstarter, utilising the crowdfunding platform to launch board games for properties including Evil Dead 2, The Terminator, Total Recall and Rambo.
We caught up with CLC’s director of business development, Stephanie Marlis Kupperman, to talk about how the firm goes about choosing which movies to bring into the toys and games space, and why she feels Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down could be the firm’s next board game success story.
For anyone who may not know, can you tell us a bit about CLC and how you guys work?
Creative Licensing is an independent merchandise licensing agency. We represent large studios and production companies including StudioCanal, Revolution Studios, Trancas International Films, and Enter these Dark Woods. With this, we represent over 100 titles including such iconic films like The Terminator, Rambo, Evil Dead 2, Halloween and xXx amongst others. We grant companies around the world rights to make products based off of the films we represent.
How do you go about assessing which of your properties would make a great fit for a board game?
We look at three main things:
- Are there inherent gamification elements in the film to justify a game in the first place?
- Is there enough of a passionate fan base to support a game?
- How do we think this would perform on Kickstarter?
Almost all of our board games have been launched via a Kickstarter campaign, so we look at the current landscape and ask if there is room for our game on Kickstarter.
Could you talk us through some of your previous successful board game partnerships and why they worked so well?
One of our most successful partnerships was with Space Goat for Evil Dead 2: The Official Board Game. This game raised over 1000 per cent of its goal.
One of the reasons we think it worked so well is because Evil Dead 2 sits right in the sweet spot of being a cult classic film that is still recognised by a large enough number of people.
Additionally, the Kickstarter video, game play and optional upgrades (including the variant ex-mortis box and fully painted figures), were spot-on in terms of the look and feel of the film. This allowed people to feel the game was authentic and created by fans for fans.
One of your recent deals include a tablegame partnership with Overworld Games for Total Recall. What made Total Recall a great fit for a tabletop game?
There is inherent gamification in Total Recall because the premise of the film is about the conflict between Rekall, the company who provides memory implants, and Quid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) the secret agent who is looking to destroy Rekall. Overworld did a tremendous job of expanding on this to create a compelling game.
Have you got any properties that you are currently looking to expand into games? If so, why do you think they would be a good fit for the category?
Yes, one film that we think would make for a great board game is Black Hawk Down. The film has a star-studded cast including Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom, Ty Burrell, Jeremy Piven, Eric Bana and Ewan McGregor, and was directed by Ridley Scott. Players could play as these soldiers on teams trying to complete complex missions in Somalia. Furthermore, the film has a loyal fanbase whom I think would enjoy revisiting the film through a board game and Kickstarter campaign.
Creatively, do you think the world of licensed board games is in a good space?
Yes, I do. As the world of licensed board games continues to expand however, I think it will be the companies that push these games to the next level with app integrations that will be the ones to truly distinguish themselves.
LIMA Rising Star 2016!
Please join us in congratulating our director, Stephanie Marlis, on being named one of LIMA’s Rising Star for 2016!
Director of Digital Media and Acquisitions for Creative Licensing
Stephanie began her career in licensing as Creative Licensing’s Licensing Coordinator in 2010. During that time, she structured new domestic and international apparel, game and figurine partnerships for CLC’s large catalogue of classic films. From there, Stephanie moved over to Creative Artists Agency where she managed brand portfolios from the private equity side. Following CAA, Stephanie sourced brand partners for the production company Electus, as its Manager of Digital Development.
Stephanie returned to Creative Licensing in 2014 as Director of Digital Media and Acquisitions, where she oversees strategic partnerships, art direction, press, approvals, CLC’s digital presence, and acquisitions of new films for representation.
LICENSING EXPO, 2016!
The firm is looking at expanding the cult film into apparel, publishing and live action entertainment.
Creative Licensing has been appointed as the worldwide merchandise licensing agent for the 2001 cult film, Wet Hot American Summer.
The firm is looking at expanding the property into categories such as apparel, art posters, summertime accessories, board games, publishing, promotional tie-ins, specialty gifts and live action entertainment.
“Wet Hot has amassed a huge cult following thanks to its iconic scenes, unforgettable oddball quotes, and star-studded cast with names like Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Poehler anchoring the film,” said Creative Licensing’s director, Stephanie Marlis.
“We are looking forward to presenting the film at Licensing Expo and finding those partners who are devoted to producing fan-first products.”
Howard Bernstein, producer of Wet Hot American Summer, added: “We look forward to collaborating with Creative Licensing to provide unique and creative products and opportunities for the fans, who have been so great in supporting Wet Hot for so many years.”
Current licensees include Mondo, Ripple Junction, and Rusted Wave.
CLC’s Rand Marlis discusses the excellent global adventures of the Bill and Ted brand
By Robert Hutchins SEPTEMBER 24TH 2015 AT 9:21AM UPDATED
It’s the movie franchise that launched the career of Keanu Reeves and had kids and adults quoting ‘Wyld Stallyns’ ever since. CLC’s president, Rand Marlis talks the longevity of this ‘Excellent’ classic brand, dude.
Can you give me a history of the Bill and Ted brand and its successes?
Creative Licensing has represented Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) since their box office debuts respectively. At the time of their releases, both movies were not expected to be the smash hits they became. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, for example, grossed $40.4M domestically on a budget of roughly $10M and launched the career of Keanu Reeves who played “Ted”. Since that time both films, “Excellent Adventure” in particular, have become cult classics with iconic phrases such as “Be Excellent to Each Other” and “Party On Dude” woven into pop culture today.
The merchandise licensing program we’ve developed spans a wide range of categories. Over our 25+ years of representation, we’ve completed worldwide deals in categories ranging from a breakfast cereal, to highly stylized figures, to a t-shirt design contest, to a 20+ year deal with Universal Studios for the live action event, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure”.
What is the demographic for the property and who are you targeting with the licensing programme?
The target demographic are those who remember Bill and Ted’s in theaters, and reflect fondly on the properties – roughly generation Y. Our target audience is therefore this generation, with a gender split of 60/40 in favor of men, but we are bringing in new fans through licensing deals on more modern platforms, such as via social and mobile.
How many licensees do you have on board for Bill and Ted and in what categories?
We currently have fourteen licenses in 8 different countries, including a number of licensees selling worldwide, in the categories of: apparel, attractions, boxed board games, collectible figures, comic books, online games, casino games, live action, and posters.
What are some of the most popular licensing categories and what would you like to see the Bill and Ted brand move in to?
The overwhelming popular category for Bill and Ted’s is apparel. I believe this is because the iconic quotes work so well on t-shirts, sweatshirts, and caps etc. In terms of future partnerships, I would like to see the Bill and Ted brand move into educational entertainment. As a PTA approved movie with a new historical figure in almost every scene, I think Bill and Ted’s would work perfectly for a ‘choose your own storyline’ type book or a tie-in with a history museum.
What do you look for in a licensing partner and how do you pick your licensees?
I look for two main criteria’s when picking a licensee: passion for the properties and a proven track record with other licensed properties in similar genres. First with respect to passion for the properties, I want to see that a potential licensee is not only familiar with Bill and Ted’s, but also has a passion for the properties that can be translated through the products he creates. A thoughtful product with details ‘only a true fan would understand’ will undoubtedly inspire other fans to engage with and buy the product. We therefore look for licensees that do not simply ‘slap logos on product,’ but rather create products that the long-time fans will appreciate and continue to grow fond of over time.
Second, with respect to a proven track record, I want to see that a potential licensee has completed a successful range of products for a 1980’s or 90’s brand, such that Bill and Ted’s is not their first licensed property.
What are the main challenges with managing the Bill and Ted brand?
One main challenge with managing the Bill and Ted’s brand is cultivating an international audience. We have a strong UK and North American presence, but have yet to move outside these territories in a big way.
What is the secret to maintaining the success of Bill and Ted and its heritage?
Finding innovative licensees to reinvent the property in new and exciting ways. Our comic book licensee, Boom! Studios has done a tremendous job of digging into the heritage of Bill and Ted’s to create authentic storylines that resonate with fans. They have also commissioned key, popular artists to give each Bill and Ted book a different look and feel, which we believe will help keep fans engaged over the long term.
How different is your approach to the Bill and Ted property compared to other brands in our portfolio?
Bill and Ted’s differs greatly in tonality from our most popular feature, “The Terminator.” Bill and Ted’s, at its core, is about two high school teenagers who must travel through time so they don’t fail their history exam. We therefore look for licensees who understand the humorous, goofy, undertones of Bill and Ted’s and aren’t afraid to take risks in that regard.
What has changed the most about the licensing industry over Bill and Ted’s history and how has this impacted the brand?
The largest change has been the growth of new product categories. Many of our current licensees are in categories that didn’t exist when Bill and Ted’s began. Another main change is, when the films were first released, there was a strong belief that a successful licensing program must follow a successful theatrical release – it was a hit driven business. Now, there is more of an acceptance and appreciation of classic properties, rather than a ‘what’s hot now’ approach to licensing. Our licensees develop long-term plans knowing Bill and Ted will be around for years to come.
What’s next for the Bill and Ted property?
We have a number of exciting new deals in the works for Bill and Ted’s, including a new collectible figure, boxed board game, casino game, limited edition subscription box, and a new mobile game featuring all the well-known historical figures from the movies.
Anything you’d like to add?
The awareness of Bill and Ted’s initially surprised us. Its reach in the United Kingdom exceeds that in the United States. It truly is a favorite memory of the 1990’s, and new fans are constantly catching onto the property. Bill and Ted have a bright future, if they can pass their history test.
To learn more about our current Bill and Ted’s partnerships please visit us at BLE booth C100 or visit our webpage, Bill and Ted’s Introduction
Comic book publishers Boom! Studios, Dark Horse, and Space Goat publish new stories from classic films
Boom! Studios, Dark Horse, and Space Goat are capitalizing on the trend of nostalgia licensing by creating popular comic books based off of well-known late 1980’s, early 1990’s film titles. These serialized comic books include books based off of The Terminator, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Evil Dead 2 and Escape from New York. They will be released in 2015 and will be available online and in specialty retailers.
Creative Licensing Corporation, “CLC,” recently sat down with Filip Sablik, the President of Publishing and Marketing at Boom! Studios, to discuss nostalgia licensing within the comic book world. Filip explains, “nostalgia plays a big part in the attractiveness of comic books because many of us discover them as kids. Older properties also create a foundation for us to continue a story. Take for example, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. For years there has been talks of a third movie without any sign of a release date. Our Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return comic book offers a continuation of that story, and satisfies the appetite of Bill and Ted’s fans in the meantime.” Filip also explained that in order to have a successful licensed comic book, authors must have “an equal amount of passion for the original IP,” so that the book is authentic to the look and feel of the original. The comic book should also be able to “stand on its own two feet against the original stuff in the marketplace,” according to Filip.
Current licenses granted by CLC to Boom! Studios include, Escape from New York, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and the UK 1960’s TV classic series The Avengers. Licenses granted to Dark Horse include The Terminator and Terminator Salvation, while Space Goat was granted Evil Dead 2.
Endoskeleton from The Terminator will serve as the cup.
Creative Licensing Corporation has teamed with USAopoloy to launch Terminator Yahtzee.
The infamous Endoskeleton from The Terminator will serve as the cup that holds the dice as part of the Yahtzee Collector’s Edition.
Coming to stores this summer, Terminator Yahtzee will be available from retailers across the United States and Canada.
Check out the game below:
Excitement for “The Terminator” Never Terminates
Creative Licensing Corporation (CLC) represents the ever-popular merchandising rights to the motion picture, “The Terminator”, and knows the sleeper hit hasn’t aged a day since its 1984 release. CLC is attending Brand Licensing Europe in London to present new licensed products and talk about the ways this iconic cyborg – and the franchise it spawned – lives on.
Celebrating 30 years, “The Terminator” and its sequel, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” score well on several prominent lists. Both represented by CLC, the movies have maintained their prominent rankings on lists such as AFI’s Top 100 list, Best 75 Films of all time by Total Film, IMDB’s top 250, best villain (remarkably also garnering best hero), Top 35 Films in History by Empire Magazine and many more. The Terminator’s memorable quotes “I’ll be back” and “Hasta la vista, baby” are ingrained in our culture. “Terminator 2” earned six Academy Award nominations and four wins.
Rand Marlis, President of CLC, said, “It has been an honor to share the Terminator’s epic journey these past 30 years. This cyborg evolves from villain to superhero and saves the world. The characters of Sara and John Connor combine to make the story a classic.”
Recent licensees for Terminator masks and apparel include Fright Rags and Poeticgem, respectively, plus a license with Microgaming for a major new online slot machine release of Terminator 2. Additionally, several previous licensees have extended and expanded their Terminator agreements with CLC, including Reef for video games, Pegasus Hobby for model kits, Sideshow for collectibles, and Sudden Impact and Creative Cultural for theme-park attractions.
CLC also represents the merchandising rights to “Terminator Salvation” plus many other memorable movies and television series such as “Rambo” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” CLC recently licensed the classic French film “Breathless” to a Japanese clothing company and the high-end clothing line it inspired sold out all inventory in a matter of weeks.
CLC Expands Licensing for Escape From New York
Snake Plissken. One of the great heroes in film history is seeing a major increase in licensing interest. The one-eyed tattooed criminal turned hero, played by Kurt Russell, in Escape From New York, has always been popular. Snake has appeared in sequel movies, music videos, comic books and was the inspiration for the Solid Snake character in the Metal Gear Solid series of games.
Sideshow Collectibles realized this popularity and produced a stunning 12” tall figure that will be released in October 2014. Funko has just released their 4 inch Escape From New York ReAction figures and NECA is readying their 8 inch figures. In addition Grey Matter art released a special art poster and Fright Rags released Tshirts. At the San Diego Comiccon in July Boom announced their upcoming Escape From New York comic book series.
At BLE Creative Licensing will feature many of these products and soliciting other companies interested in Snake.