Universal Goes Digital with 'Uglydoll' Apps, Virtual Goods, and Film
by Ben Pearson
January 7, 2013
Hollywood studios have long realized the potential for making money with animated films, and we seem to be in a transitional period with DreamWorks Animation moving from Paramount to 20th Century Fox, Paramount building their own animation unit, and Warner Bros. just starting up a new creative think tank for properties of its own. Illumination Entertainment has already made quite a splash in the industry, teaming with Universal Pictures for Despicable Me, The Lorax, and more. Now they'll add Uglydoll to their growing slate of projects, hoping to capitalize on the pre-existing fandom with a more digital approach.
A press release says that Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri will produce Uglydoll, written by Larry Stuckey (Little Fockers) and based on the successful property created by husband and wife team David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim. It began as a plush doll of a character Horvath created in 2001, and soon sprang into a line of licensed products and published works. We've known about that part for a while now, but the larger news seems to be that the studio plans to "launch interactive and wireless content, such as apps, games, widgets and virtual goods" in order to further establish the digital world of the "Uglyverse."
In their created world, "ugly" means "special," and I'm sure Universal and Illumination are hoping to recapture the minion-esque magic from Despicable Me with this group of pint-sized protagonists (and remember, those Despicable Me minions are actually getting a sequel and a spin-off of their own). Looks like Universal is now in the little monsters business, and we're optimistically hoping that they'll make enough money with this franchise that they'll be able to greenlight some higher quality live action work than their general output has shown over the past few years.