• Hasbro Files for "Allspark Distribution" Trademark--A Possible New Subdivision?

    Allspark Distribution Logo is a EQD Speculation Mock-up

    There's some potential huge news coming out of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. On February 14th, 2018, Hasbro filed a trademark (serial numbered 87796827) for Allspark Distribution. While trademarking anything possible with Allspark isn't a huge surprise considering Hasbro's Transformers toyline coined the term back in the 1980s, what makes this big news is the description which was filed with it.

    Allspark Distribution was filed with a description for--and I quote--"Entertainment services, namely, production and distribution of movies, television series, online series, webisodes and digital content; entertainment media production services for motion pictures, television and internet".

    There's a lot to unpack and speculate about in that sentence. Which I will be delving into after the break.

    NOTE: The following is pure speculation based on the author's knowledge of the film industry.

    Considering the last time we found out about Hasbro scooping up a trademark associated with Allspark was right before Allspark Animation was announced as a new company within Hasbro, odds are Hasbro is creating yet another new company to go right along with Allspark Pictures. And this company is going to be an important component to Hasbro's current deal with Paramount Pictures.

    At the time, it was initially thought Paramount would be handling the distribution of the films created in this agreement. Paramount is a film company which has been in the movie business for 106 years and all five of the live action Transformers films have been huge box office successes under their banner. They have the network of contacts spread out all across the globe to saturate the market with their films. It would make sense for Paramount to take the lead on this part of the agreement.

    However, I get the feeling two events in 2017 contributed greatly to Hasbro's decision to potentially create their own distribution company. The first is Transformers: The Last Knight only raking in $604 million dollars against a $217 million dollar budget. Compared to Transformers: Age of Extinction's performace of $1.1 billion dollars against a $210 million dollar budget, that's a 40% drop in profits for the film series.

    The second event is the marketing campaign Lionsgate performed for My Little Pony: The Movie. Or rather the marketing campaign for the film which left a lot to be desired. The first full trailer for the film appeared on June 28th, 2017. The final trailer did not show up until September 12th, a full 12 days before the world premiere of the film in NYC. The television marketing campaign didn't start until after the world premiere, and the MLP Fansites were basically it for online marketing.

    So why am I bringing up the marketing campaign Lionsgate did for MLP the Movie? Well, it's because in Hollywood a distribution company has two jobs. The first is to distribute the film through theater, digital, and home video distribution channels. The second is to market the film to the target audience. And it's that second job which I have a feeling Hasbro is looking to take complete control over.

    After all, Hasbro kind of specializes in marketing their products to kids.

    But the most interesting part of the creation of a distribution company within Hasbro Studios is the almost crystal clear picture of the corporate structure within it. Keep in mind, the following corporate breakdown is pure speculation.

    With the creation of Allspark Animation, Hasbro Studios breaks down pretty cleanly into two businesses. Technically three business if you count their television commercial division Cake Mix Studios—which I have a feeling is going to become a subdivision of Allspark Distribution, but let's try to keep things simple for the moment.

    Allspark Pictures handles the live action television and movie productions for Hasbro Studios. Allspark Animation will handle the animation television and movie productions for Hasbro studios. Both of those businesses are under a 5 year deal with Paramount to co-finance, produce, and distribute live action and animation features respectively.

    Now Hasbro owns Boulder Media, which is a full animation studio. Paramount doesn't have an animation studio. This most likely means production of all animated features coming out of Hasbro Studios will be created in house by Boulder and co-financed by Hasbro Studios and Paramount Pictures.

    Allspark Pictures is a full film production company. What Allspark Pictures doesn't own are soundstages and backlots required to shoot their own movies and television shows. Paramount, on the other hand, owns 65 acres of soundstages and backlots. This most likely means the live action productions will be taking place in The Studios at Paramount Pictures with location filming taking place on location as necessary.

    Now, how does Allspark Distribution fit in with this? To start, I have a feeling Hasbro is going to take over the marketing campaigns for all of their entertainment projects various release channels. This means Hasbro will probably handle the marketing for the theatrical release, the television release, the digital release, and the eventual home video release of whatever is produced. This way Hasbro will have more direct control over the financial success or failure of their projects. It makes logical sense.

    The big question is who is going to handle the distribution for these projects. I have a feeling the answer is going to lie in how these projects are going to be released. For online distribution, the options are YouTube, Machimina, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, etc. and Hasbro has been successfully releasing content on all of those platforms for well over a decade now.

    Home Video releases produced in DVD, BLU-RAY, and 4KUHD disk formats. To put this bluntly, Shout Factory has released each and every single one of Hasbro's animated properties on either DVD or BLU-RAY for over a decade. The only exception being the home video release of My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), which was released to home video with a quick home video release through Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Hasbro's Live Action Film Properties have been released through either Paramount Home Media Distribution (Transformers, G.I. Joe) or Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (Battleship, Ouija, Jem and the Holograms). I have a feeling none of this is going to change in the near future.

    Though the organization point for it might end up at Allspark Distribution so that Hasbro can have some control over what's included on the home video releases.

    Televison releases will most likely happen through Discovery Family since Hasbro owns 40% of that channel or through whichever kids TV network ends up with the broadcast rights. Putting the broadcast licensing rights under Allspark Distribution would allow for easier management of those rights all across the globe.

    Theatrical releases will most likely go through the standard release channels for theater distribution. Again, Paramount has been at that game for 106 years. I'm pretty sure Paramount is going to handle that aspect of a films release for the duration of the deal.

    However, and if I am right this is important, should Hasbro and Paramount mutually decide to end their agreement after it expires, Hasbro will be in a position to handle all of the production, distribution, and marketing of their own entertainment properties. Hasbro would be in complete control of their own entertainment creative destiny and have the ability to execute it.

    So what could this mean for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls? Aside from Hasbro gaining greater control over the success or failure of any future potential feature films, I highly doubt anything is going to change in the short term for either of those two properties. Long term? The skies the limit.

    Of course that's just what I think is going to happen. I could be completely off the mark and miss the target by over a mile. But it is something fun to think about. So I open up the floor to you, the readers of Equestria Daily.

    What do you think Allspark Distribution could possibly mean for Hasbro and My Little Pony? I look forward to seeing the discussion in the comments below!

    Till next time folks, this has been The Illustrious Q.