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How Bear Grylls is swinging into the licensed arena

We chat to Platinum Films about its work with Bear Grylls Ventures on a new animated adventure series.

We’ve all watched on TV as BAFTA winner Bear Grylls – adventurer extraordinaire, survival expert, writer and Chief Scout – takes some of the world’s best known figures on incredible adventures, including the likes of President Barack Obama.

But imagine actually joining Bear on one of his adventures – which have included paragliding over the Himalayas, conquering Everest at the age of just 23 and having a dinner party at an altitude of 25,000ft. One man who has been given just a taste is Nigel Stone, ceo of Platinum Films. But then, when you’re working with the man himself on a new animation, stepping into Bear’s mindset has to be a vital part of the process.

Bear has enjoyed an impressive worldwide TV audience of 1.9 billion viewers, firmly establishing himself as a global icon of adventure. Now, Platinum Films is working with Bear Grylls Ventures to create a new action packed animated adventure showcasing the boyhood exploits that made him the man we know today.

The announcement of Bear Grylls Young Adventurer last year understandably garnered significant press attention. The story focuses on a 13 year old Bear who, unknown to all but his closest school friend, is the most recent recruit of a covert organisation dedicated to rescue missions in wild and exotic locations around the globe.

RealBear

Though gifted with an inherent zest for discovery and adventure, his raw talent and improvisational skills will be put to the ultimate test on these high-stakes missions. He’ll have to overcome the harshest terrains and most demanding conditions on the planet, unleash his inner adventurer… and still get his homework in on time.

Bear himself explains further: “I think that this series is all about bringing the spirit of adventure and exploration to young kids in a way that fires their imagination and brings out the survivor in them all.

“What’s great is that it’s funny, translatable and thrilling at the same time; it instills values that are important for everyone – to follow your dreams, to succeed through failure and to never give up – but is also takes kids on epic adventures in far flung places around the globe.”

Bear continues: “Bear Grylls Young Adventurer is inspiring, exciting and unique, but above all it is rooted in fun, friendship and survival. All vital things for kids.”

Nigel is keen to stress that the show will present a positive role model for boys and girls. He says: “Bear’s kindness, his courage – these are the qualities I would want in a hero of one of our shows.”

Of course, there is a big opportunity on the commercial side, too. The licensing programme, Nigel continues, will reflect the show’s core values: adventure, lifestyle, action, cool, functional and fun. He adds: “It’s therefore essential that our partners embody these key pillars and drive innovation in the products they produce.”

Animated-Bear

Another key aspect will be on the digital side – enter Paul Brunton, former head of studio at We are Bionic, who will be heading up Platinum’s new digital division, Giant Pixel. His remit is to develop the global digital strategies across Platinum’s IP, but with a primary focus on Bear Grylls Young Adventurer.

Paul explains: “Our aim is to create original and groundbreaking digital content for Bear’s millions of fans – both children and adults. Have no doubt, his universal appeal and the new animated TV show will deliver huge opportunities within the licensing sector and the digital space as well.

“My role is to build long-term relationships with ambitious partners and I will work very closely with them to activate our digital strategy to bring value and success to all parties. I am excited to explore new partnerships with other experienced studios within the digital sector, so look forward to speaking with them at Licensing Expo.”

Bear encourages teamwork, adventure, shared experiences and the outdoors, Paul explains, so this mantra will underpin everything Platinum undertakes across the digital category.

“Connected play, Augmented and Virtual Reality are very much the buzz words within the digital sector, but it is clear that this brand lends itself perfectly to these mediums – from gaming and experiential through to education, for example,” Paul adds.

It’s clear this is an ambitious and exciting project for the team at Platinum Films, and one which the licensing business should keep a very close eye on indeed.

The Bear facts

  • Bear is the youngest ever Chief Scout
  • There are now 53 million individuals in the Scouting organisation worldwide
  • Bear’s shows are broadcast in over 200 territories
  • The shows feature a wide range of people – including the likes of President Barack Obama, Roger Federer, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Will Ferrell and Channing Tatum
  • Bear has sold over eight million books globally
  • He also has a bestselling children’s book series in China

Platinum highlights

As well as its work with Bear, Platinum Films has also been busy continuing to build the Matt Hatter brand, as well as reimagining classic preschool show, Dream Street.

Matt Hatter: Rise of Primal is a new TV movie which is due to air internationally throughout 2018. It had its global premiere on CITV in April.

Matt Hatter is also due to make its first appearance in the Chinese market, with a dual Chinese broadcast planned for later this year. In addition, an all-natural range of Matt Hatter drinks is currently in development for global launch this year.

Meanwhile, Platinum Films has reimagined its BAFTA nominated classic preschool show Dream Street for a new generation of children, using ‘roto-morphing’ techniques and CG enhancements while keeping the emotion, characterisation and stop motion feel of the original.

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2018 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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