How AMGI Animation is Adapting to COVID-19 Challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally shifted the entertainment industry. From production shutdowns to the rise in at-home streaming, the toll on people and businesses has caused studios across the spectrum to reexamine how they work. From Zoom meetings to direct-to-streaming film debuts, the industry is trying new things to be more adaptable and prepared for the pace that is sure to arrive when things open back up again.

Now, as a light at the end of the tunnel slowly begins to emerge, companies are looking to become more efficient and flexible than ever before. While this paradigm shift can be a challenge, some studios are finding their inherent nature is giving them the advantage to get up-to-speed faster than they even realized was possible.

One such studio is AMGI Animation. The self-described ‘IP factory,’ based in South Pasadena, Calif., has been able to quickly adapt to the new normal by leveraging the vision and expediency inherent in its DNA. AMGI’s unique advantage comes from its technology, business mission and its experienced team of animators that help bring each project to life.

“In a strange sort of way, this shutdown has kind of accelerated our production,” Colin Brady, co-founder, AMGI, tells License Global. “We were already a digitally based studio, so the transition to working from home wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be. We can still create the characters just as fast as we did before, and all our animators are working remotely, so we are perfectly suited for this.”

The group includes alums from Disney and Pixar who leverage real-time rendering technology based on the Unreal Engine to create animations quickly. Using Unreal technology, the team can render projects rapidly from their home workstations in real-time, in an industry that isn’t always based on speed to market.

The studio’s unique business model also allows AMGI to be flexible and quick to react to the market. After just one year in business, the company has developed eight properties for each demographic of kids’ entertainment. Characters range from the young adult music-themed IP “Zeppelin Reign” to the younger-focused “Little Kaiju” property. AMGI is looking to leverage those digital-first characters by extending them into episodic streaming content and licensing across verticals.

“One of the things that struck me when I attended Toy Fair this year was the preponderance of toys that were built on digital influencer initiatives,” says Tony Diioia, co-founder, AMGI. “The sheer number of eyeballs that are watching content on these online platforms is really enough to kickstart a full-blown licensing program.”

AMGI’s fast-acting approach and potential to quickly develop streaming content for new character IP may end up being a significant opportunity for the studio, as distributors look to launch new material following the production stoppage. The company’s quick to market model is also powering how it works with licensees and retailers.

AMGI sees the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown as affecting how the industry does business even after companies can begin to reopen. With that in mind, the studio is looking to work with partners who can adapt to whatever the future may bring. Potential partners for the company include retailers and licensees with a robust e-commerce and digital presence.

“Eventually, we are going to come back, but I don’t think we are going to come back to exactly how it used to be,” adds Diioia. “We think that e-commerce is going to be an accelerator based on what is happening today.”

Overall, AMGI believes that it will come out of the COVID-19 shutdown with a business model that has been accelerated, as major industry players look for companies that fit the quick-to-adapt mold.

As everyone learns to readjust to a fundamentally shifted work environment, companies such as AMGI will prove vital for an industry landscape looking to offset the challenges of the shutdown rapidly.

“I think when we look back at this time, we are going to see it as we got a shot of adrenaline when everyone slowed down,” adds Roger Paglia, chief executive officer, AMGI. “We are one of the few independent studios still standing, and our whole crew is churning out properties.”


Kids Insights: Why it’s time to reflect, reconsider and re-evaluate

Nick Richardson, founder and ceo, talks through some of the changes already being seen in its data due to COVID-19 measures.

If I had a £1 for every time, I used the word ‘unprecedented’ then I would be a rich man, but there really is no other word to describe the challenges we are all facing today.

While it may feel at times that the world is on ‘pause’, it is not the case when it comes to kids. They are experiencing this real-life adventure thriller first-hand and the impact this will have on their attitudes, behaviour and consumption will be truly significant.

In my opinion, history is going to very much remember this time in three periods… ‘BC’ Before Coronavirus, ‘DC’ During Coronavirus and ‘AC’ After Coronavirus.

Thankfully for us and our clients we are in a fortunate position – Coronavirus has had no impact on the actual delivery of our service. We continue to survey more than 3,000 children a week across nine countries (you will have hopefully seen our exciting announcement about Brazil & Mexico launching in March), which means that our real-time portal continues to update, and our amazing team of researchers continue to analyse our data, providing clients with the insight to inform their decision making.

However, 2020 is clearly not going to be the year we had all planned for; in many cases I see 2020 and 2021 merging from a budgeting and planning perspective. Not getting the chance to move our respective businesses as far forward as we may have wanted and planned for will be frustrating, but the positive is we can now take this time to consider if our strategies and plans are properly fit for purpose.

In my mind, the first part of planning is understanding, followed by audience definition but the problem is any data pre-Coronavirus is now out of date; even your regular retail sales data is probably proving less insightful than usual. So, if you are not currently working with us, I would encourage you to reach out. Our real-time data portal provides you with real-time data and information, enabling clients to gain valuable insight to help them plan and adapt to a constantly evolving world during and after Coronavirus.

Just wanted to share some of the significant changes we have seen in our data:

  • Anxiety levels among teens have understandably grown over the past month. In the UK, 62% of children are feeling anxious, up 35% on the last year’s average. In the US, 64% of teens say they are anxious and in Europe, these figures soar to 72% and 68% respectively in Spain and Italy; all countries registering higher rates than we were seeing a year ago.
  • Playing with board games has become an increasingly popular past-time over the last month; increasing as a favourite toy to play with across the US (+85%), UK (+67%), Germany (+82%), Italy (+62%), Spain (+57%) and India (+20%). While in France playing card games is up +29%.
  • In the UK, the Houseparty app has grown substantially in the last month, our data states that 150,000 kids aged 5-18 have used it to chat in the last month, up from an average across the last year of just 13,000!
  • In Italy, the number of kids using Netflix up from 39.5% to 48.5% since lockdown, and the number of kids using Netflix at least daily up from 26% to 40%.
Minecraft's popularity has soared as a game, app and toy across all markets.
Minecraft’s popularity has soared as a game, app and toy across all markets.
  • Minecraft’s popularity soars as a game, app and toy across all markets.
  • The growth of ‘in-game chat’ has also proved more popular this month as children increasingly seeking out opportunities to connect via a shared experience or interest. In the UK we have seen a 73% increase in this form of connection, while the US has seen a smaller yet significant +13% growth in this area.
  • The US overall has seen smaller, niche platforms breaking much more so than other countries across the last month. Although Instagram and Facebook Messenger remain the most used by around a quarter of all 5-18s, platforms like Discord, Telegram, Line Messenger and Meow Chat have all demonstrated substantial usage increases.
  • In the UK, esports has begun to open up to a younger demographic with 18.3% of 5-10s watching esports on screen in March v 13.6% across the previous three months.

We have also seen how these difficult times have provided Disney+with a far easier landing into the market. Despite only been released on March 24, our early data at the time of writing (March 27) suggest 8.1% of kids are already accessing the platform – which would be equivalent to 1 million children in the UK.

There is no doubt that there are going to be challenges over the coming days, weeks and months – but as you reflect, reconsider and revaluate your plans, be assured that we are here to help however we can. So please don’t hesitate in getting in contact if there is anything we can do to support you.


Dream Theatre appoints Renu Nair as General Manager, Consumer Products


Dream Theatre announced the appointment of Renu Nair to the position of General Manager – Consumer Products. Renu will be responsible for growing the consumer products business across Dream Theatre’s representations in Entertainment and Lifestyle lines of businesses, across India and South Asia. Renu was previously Sales Director and Head of Consumer Products at Mattel India. Prior to Mattel, she was Associate Director, Consumer  Products at the Walt Disney Company.

“We are excited to have Renu on board; she brings a wealth of cross category experience and a keen understanding of the market. It is an exciting time for the licensing business in India and Renu’s appointment will bring laser focus to revenue growth as well as our strategic partnerships, across our brands,” said Jiggy George, Founder and CEO Dream Theatre.

“I am thrilled to join Dream Theatre. Its rich brand representation portfolio is poised perfectly for driving growth and value across Consumer Products businesses and partnerships”, said Renu Nair.

About Dream Theatre Pvt Ltd. Dream Theatre leverages the power of licensing to CREATE, REPRESENT and DISTRIBUTE iconic brands in South Asia. These brands are focused on Entertainment, Sports and Lifestyle businesses. Dream Theatre represents The Smiley Company, Sanrio, Liverpool Football Club, Real Madrid, FIFA 2018, The Pokémon Company, Rovio amongst other brands for Licensing and Merchandising in India and South Asia. Dream Theatre represents ChuChu TV, the most popular kids network of channels on YouTube,  globally for their licensing and merchandising portfolio. The company manages content syndication for key brands and creates and retails products via Dream Theatre group companies. For further information, please visit

Disney set to pass $10bn at global box office for 2019

If you haven’t already made time to bow to Queen Elsa & Princess Anna at the nearest Box Office, you might be in danger of committing Disney-styled-harakiri by your child (yes, there is such a thing!). For us here at though its ALWAYS been #Allaboutthenumbers. So let’s see how those stack up, shall we?

Firstly, Disney is on track to cross the $10 billion barrier at the global box office today (December 9) with its combined releases of 2019.

According to Screen Daily, the estimated results for Frozen 2 this weekend take the global box office for The Walt Disney Studios for the year to $9.997 billion worldwide. Even Sven the reindeer can tell you that’s kissing distance from the BIG TEN!

Yes, we knew you’d ask for a breakdown, so here goes….this comprises $6.717bn from international markets and $3.28bn in North America.

Once the results from Fox films this year have been added in, the tally rises to $11.94bn ($8.14bn international/$3.8bn North America). Disney set the previous record for global box office in a calendar year in 2016 when its releases delivered $7.6bn.

The result follows another weekend of dominance from Frozen 2 – it added an estimated $124.9m to reach $919.7m and become the eighth highest release of the year to date.

Internationally, it added $90.2m for a $582.1m running total and $34.7m in North America for $337.6m to rank as the seventh highest release of the year after 17 days.

And, we are still we are still TWO WEEKS away from Christmas! The Grinch ain’t gonna steal this Christmas for sure! #SpoilerAlert this one’s a tear-jerker in the BEST way possible + a Male gets to sing (No, its not “Let It Go”)

Original words by Samantha Loveday courtesy LicenseSource.Net

Minor edits by Team ILP 0:0)

Aadarsh & Ankita – ready for global domination

Purple Turtle the 1st International IP from India that came from books and is now in more than 25 countries launched it’s season 1 at MipCom. It is being Co-produced, distributed by Cyber Group Studios, France and post-production by Telegael, Ireland.

Mr. Pierre Sissmann, Founder, Cyber Group Studios is excited about the association and expects Purple Turtle to become a childhood phenomenon.

It is written by Emmy Award-Winning Writers – Dev Ross, Karl Geurs, Carter Crocker, Phil Harnage, and Paul Parkes. It is Directed by Swati Rajoria and produced by Manish Rajoria and Ankita Shrivastava.

Purple Turtle has 14 Pre-school Franchisees in India and holds a very strong potential for licensing. They are simultaneously working on their new property, Colour Fairies and Jack/Chaos that have interest from both Distributors and Co-producers.

The company is a Disney Approved Printer, was the licensee for Barbie, Ben10 in the past and eventually created their own IP. 

They are at MIP 2019 to find Co-producers for The Feature Film on Ankita Shrivastava, the Producer of the series and a Live Liver Donor who is also now a World Record Holder for Athletics at the World Transplant Games in the UK organized by the Olympics Association. They are also pitching their Formats on some amazing ideas about Cooking and Organ Donation.

Planet Superheroes is on a mission to take over the country one store at a time!

Ready, steady, fly!

Planet Superheroes recently announced its store expansion footprint to go beyond the metros of India. With six new retail stores in the last quarter – they have expanded into towns like Jabalpur, Surat, Mangalore, and Vapi making the total count at 25 across India. With 10 more stores opening in the next quarter, Planet Superheroes is leading the way in terms of its omnichannel footprint across both physical and online channels.

Planet Superheroes was launched in 2014 to cater to the huge comic fan community of India which was hungry for a brand focused on providing officially licensed character merchandise. In a market that had been widely polluted with counterfeit products, Planet Superheroes took the leap of faith that Indian customers wanted value for money and preferred official merchandise with consistent quality over counterfeit products. They have now established themselves as a market leader in just under five years both in terms of retail footprint and in the breadth of characters and categories they sell. They have also established a pan India distribution in the toys category to cater to the Mom and Pop Stores of India that still rely on traditional distribution channels.

In terms of licensing partnerships, they work with almost every major licensor from Disney, Warner Brothers, EONE, Viacom, Spin Master and Hasbro bringing joy to its end customers across age categories from Pre-School to hardcore Action Figure Fans who have no age limit! They sell 50+ categories from Apparel, Toys, Collectibles, Electronics and Accessories to name a few. They have also been winners of the Comic-Con Gold Awards for two years in succession.

Licensing in India

The Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey 2018 estimated that the global licensing industry is worth $271.6 Bn. However, licensing in India is still at a nascent stage. But the entry of licensees like Planet Superheroes, coupled with advancements in technology and ever-expanding marketplaces have provided the much-needed tailwinds needed for the growth of this sector. There is still a lack of retail players as traditional retailers do not understand the power of curation. As one of the earliest licensed merchandise brands, Planet Superheroes started focusing on creating ‘character merchandise’ as a category in itself and became a forerunner in bringing this concept to end consumers. While brands like Hamleys, Reliance, Lifestyle etc. also sell character merchandise in silos under Apparel, Electronics, Toys, Planet Superheroes has taken a contrarian “curated category” approach on the lines of other global players in the world that have succeeded in this space.


The most important challenge in retail is managing the expectations of the mall owners who often expect Planet Superheroes’ “trading density” (Revenue per square foot) to be on par with other premium fashion brands. This is a challenge because, despite the better than average conversion, the average price of these products are much lower compared to the bigger brands who command a much larger premium. However, after successfully executing its first 5 stores and proving the value addition, most mall operators now approach them to become a part of their upcoming mall launches because of the uniqueness and customer engagement value that they bring to the mall. They currently work with almost all the marquee mall developers from Phoenix Mills, Viviana, Nexus, Infiniti, VR Mall and Forum to name a few.

Way Forward

Planet Superheroes will continue to expand its retail footprint into territories that are underserved. Their next focus will be in the Eastern and Northern parts of India going as far as Guwahati in the North East of India. Planet Superheroes is a brand with a technology DNA – their technical ambitions surpass their current scale. While most retailers 5x their size have started thinking about these problems, Planet Superheroes has been quietly investing in leveraging automation, data-warehousing and intelligent algorithms to crack the complex world of omnichannel inventory management. They strongly believe that their robust tech infrastructure and process-driven expansion would be key differentiators as they scale from store number 25 to 100.

Special thanks to Jaineel Aga & Nikita Zankar from Team PlanetSuperHeroes.



Disney, M&S partner for ‘Frozen 2’ holiday line

U.K. clothing and homewares retailer Marks & Spencer has partnered with Disney for a holiday collection based on the upcoming film “Frozen 2.”

The line will debut in “Frozen 2” store sections across M&S brick-and-mortar shops and online. Sections will include kidswear costumes, pajamas, advent calendars and soft toys. The collection will also see selfie stations appear at 54 of the largest M&S shops. Each station will offer fans the chance to take special festive pictures of Elsa or Anna from the film.

“Growing M&S kidswear is an important focus at M&S as we work to appeal to family-aged customers,” says Nathan Ansell, director of clothing and home marketing, M&S. “’Frozen 2′ is a highly-anticipated film and when the trailer landed it was record-breaking so we know lots of our customers will be excited to visit our special ‘Frozen 2’ shops and check out our exclusive product.

As part of the collaboration, M&S will also be joining Disney in supporting the U.K. charity Together for Short Lives. The charity aims to support more than 49,000 seriously ill children and their families in the U.K. to receive the necessary financial, medical and emotional support. This holiday season, M&S will show its support for the charity’s work by selling an exclusive tote bag starting later this month.

“Frozen 2” opens in the U.K. Nov. 22. The film will arrive with a slate of licensing deals including some that were announced as part of an influencer event.


Mad Beauty expands Disney licence into EMEA

Mad Beauty is building on its success in the UK market with Disney, expanding its partnership to include Europe, Middle East, Africa, Israel and Eastern Europe.

The London-based licensee has enjoyed dramatic UK growth over the past two years, partly due to the ‘Never too old for…’ ranges of licensed products which includes a number of Disney characters.

“Mad Beauty have been a pleasure to work with in the UK,” said Disney’s Samar Selby. “They have collaboratively grown our licensed business within the teen and adult consumer segment.

“They continue to bring fun, creativity and innovation to the category for Disney. We are so excited to be able to expand that now across the globe, where a clear demand for this product also exists.”

Trevor Cash, md of Mad Beauty, added: “Our Never Too Old range for Disney has been a huge success in the UK, with listings in most of the main high street and online retailers.

“As a result we are delighted that Disney have recognised that our designs will have a much broader appeal so they extended our contract to include the whole EMEA region.”


King of the Jungle : The Lion King links build a bear

Build-A-Bear has announced the launch of a new collection of plush, outfits and accessories based on the all-new adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King.

As part of the deal, fans of the franchise can now make their own Lion King plush in the Build-A-Bear Workshop. This is the first time that Disney’s The Lion King plush are being offered at Build-A-Bear Workshop.

The new collection includes the following plush available at the Workshop:

  • Disney’s The Lion King Young Nala;
  • Disney’s The Lion King Young Simba;
  • Disney’s The Lion King Nala;
  • Disney’s The Lion King Simba and
  • Disney’s The Lion King Pumbaa.

The Lion King collaboration follows a recent Disney and Build-A-Bear partnership for a line of Avengers plush.


Kidbox debuts Marvel, Star Wars style boxes

Kidbox has collaborated with Disney to launch a collection of Star Wars- and Marvel-themed style boxes later this summer.

The initial three boxes feature Star Wars, Marvel’s Avengers and Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in a range of themed merchandise for boys and girls. Kidbox’s collaboration includes accessories and apparel such as glow-in-the-dark t-shirts, two-piece sets and shorts. Additional special-edition boxes with curated products for each gender are also set to launch later this year.

“With these boxes we hope to encourage kids to show their personalities and instill a confidence that allows them to take on any adventure,” says Haim Dabah, founder and chief giving officer, Kidbox. “The themed boxes will also give kids the power to be their own heroes because they can donate new clothing to kids in need when purchasing a box. We’re glad to expand our box assortment to bring our customers apparel and accessories from across the Disney, Star Wars and Marvel franchises.”

Kidbox creates curated boxes of apparel for kids. The boxes feature more than 160 premier brands with substantial savings and are assembled pairing proprietary data science and machine learning with a team of expert stylists. Walmart recently partnered with the brandfor a line available on