Breaking News: Saban re-acquires rights to ‘Rangers’
Posted by OujaStrike on May 12, 2010
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Saban re-acquires rights to ‘Rangers’
Company nabs franchise back from Disney
The Power Rangers have come home.
Haim Saban’s newly formed Saban Brands company has re-acquired from Disney the rights to the “Power Rangers” franchise that built Saban’s fortune in the mid-1990s. Saban has cut a deal with Nickelodeon for 20 new “Power Rangers” episodes, while the library of some 700 older segs will begin airing on cabler Nicktoons later this year.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s likely that the property commanded a price tag in the nine-figure range. At the time Disney acquired “Power Rangers” along with its acquisition of Fox Family Worldwide in 2001, the franchise had grossed an astounding $5 billion in retail sales alone.
Saban Brands prexy Elie Dekel said Haim Saban approached Disney about retrieving the Power Rangers franchise more than six months ago because he was convinced it had potential for a strong revival. Disney has maintained some “Power Rangers” merchandise licensing and has episodes of the show airing around the world and on ABC Family. But the property clearly hasn’t been a priority for the Mouse.
Dekel sees great promise in introducing the Power Rangers — revolving around a group of ordinary youths who can “morph” into superheroes — to a new generation of kids through the TV series, live touring events and feature films, among other efforts.
“Haim has always felt that the brand could truly be evergreen, and while Disney continued to produce the series and support consumer products part of the business, we still see tremendous untapped potential,” Dekel said.
Dekel is very familiar with the property, having been a Saban Entertainment exec at the time it took off. Haim Saban developed the concept after being impressed by similar live-action kidvid fare he saw in Japan. He cut a deal in the late 1980s with Toei Film to develop his own spin on the genre. He pitched it to U.S. outlets for years but didn’t get any takers until Fox’s fledgling Fox Kids kidvid block picked it up. “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” as the show was known in its first two seasons, was an overnight sensation after it bowed on Fox Kids in 1993.
A few years later, Saban and Fox later created a joint kidvid venture, Fox Family Worldwide, that incorporated the Power Rangers and acquired the Family Channel. Disney bought Fox Family Worldwide in 2001 and turned the cabler into ABC Family Channel.
Saban Reacquires ‘Power Rangers,’ Moves Show to Nickelodeon
The media investor Haim Saban said Wednesday that he had bought back the rights to his biggest franchise, “Power Rangers,” from The Walt Disney Company, and had licensed the show to Nickelodeon, the children’s cable channel owned by Viacom.
Executives at Saban and Viacom said in interviews that they intend to reinvigorate the nearly 20-year-old franchise, a one-time sensation among children that features costumed teenagers who save the world.
“Power Rangers” is the first acquisition by Mr. Saban’s new brands and licensing division. Mr. Saban, who made most of his fortune in children’s entertainment and now owns a big stake in Univision, announced last week that his Saban Capital Group would put $500 million into Saban Brands, a new company dedicated to acquiring entertainment and consumer brands and exploiting them through retail, television and film channels.
“The list is very, very long for things we’re going to do” with the “Power Rangers,” Mr. Saban said.
The “Power Rangers” program was most prominent in the mid-1990s when it was shown on Fox, but it has remained in production ever since, and an 18th season is in development now. That season will make its debut on Nickelodeon in the first quarter of 2011, the channel said. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the multi-year deal.
The franchise came to Disney in 2001 as part of the purchase from Saban and Fox of what is now the ABC Family cable channel. At first Disney had high hopes for the franchise, exploring deep licensed products lines and even a feature film. But focus group research soured Disney on them. Mothers, the research showed, disliked the violence — particularly the hand-to-hand combat — that is part of the franchise’s D.N.A. Ultimately, Disney decided not to brand the Power Rangers as a Disney product, which made the franchise something of a black sheep at the company.
Mr. Saban said he felt that Disney “did not develop the property and exploit it in the way that it deserves.”
Disney had been quietly shopping the franchise for more than a year, with efforts heating up after the acquisition of Marvel in August. Now flush with boy-centric characters – apparently moms don’t feel the same way about the violence involved with characters like Iron Man – Disney’s interest in the Power Rangers faded even further.
Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon’s president, said the violence was a “non-issue,” calling the show “more martial artsy and campy than anything else.”
Elie Dekel, a former licensing and merchandising executive at 20th Century Fox who is leading the Saban Brands effort, said he would seek to restore the “Power Rangers” to a place of pop culture ubiquity.
The company, which would not divulge any potential acquisitions, will have to move fast as other companies aggressively mine the branding and licensing turf. The Iconix Brand Group, for instance, has become a force in this arena, recently snapping up the Peanuts franchise from E.W. Scripps for about $175 million in cash.
Separately, Saban said Wednesday that it had renewed a licensing pact with Bandai America for “Power Rangers” toys.
Noting that one of Nickelodeon’s digital channels, Nicktoons, would be broadcasting reruns of “Power Rangers” — there are 700 episodes in the program’s library — Mr. Dekel said that “for much of the audience, they will be brand new.”
Saban buys back Power Rangers
Nickelodeon will air 18th season of series
Haim Saban is buying back the Power Rangers from Walt Disney with the hope to take the entertainment franchise that he launched to TV and toy stardom in the 1990s to new fans and new success.
His Saban Capital Group is also taking it to Viacom’s Nickelodeon as the new U.S. home for the series, which is heading into its 18th season with a new cast and the goal to rejuvenate the franchise whose ratings have been in decline.
Library episodes of the show will start airing on Nicktoons later this year, with 20 new episodes set for Nickelodeon and Nicktoons in 2011 under the direction of original executive producer Jonathan Tzachor.
Saban is buying the franchise in a renewal of his collaboration with Toei Company Ltd., the creator of the original Japanese Power Rangers TV show and an underlying right holder.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but the price tag is believed to be around $100 million. Nickelodeon in a deal similarly focused on reinvigorating an older franchise last year bought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise for $60 million.
The Power Rangers becomes the first property for Saban Brands, a new arm of SCG with a $500 million budget that will acquire entertainment, lifestyle, fashion and other brands.
“Power Rangers is one of the world’s leading children’s entertainment properties, and we are delighted to see its return,” said SCG chairman and CEO Haim Saban. “I am confident that the talented management team at Saban Brands will expand our licensing partnerships and capitalize on the significant growth potential of this powerful brand.”
Saban has been known to have had a continuing passion for the franchise, which went to Disney when the entertainment giant acquired Fox Family Worldwide, a joint venture of Saban and News Corp., in 2001.
“As one of the original leaders in kids’ television he helped to create powerful brand equity for Power Rangers, and with partnerships like this Nickelodeon will be able to build a broader audience, superserve multiple demos, especially boys, and expand our programming offerings,” said Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group.
The live-action series about kids who morph into superheroes debuted in Aug. 1993 under the original title “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” became the most-watched children’s TV show in the U.S. and helped establish a Fox Kids programming block. The franchise also saw two films – “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” (1995) and “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” (1997).
The series has been translated into various languages and has aired in more than 60 countries. The Power Rangers also became the top boys franchise in the world in terms of TV ratings and toy sales 1993-1997, according to SCG.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3ibff1f88d055b04ef0695ad5dc9b7af3b?pn=1