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Hasbro Gets Serious About Animation With Acquisition Of Ireland’s Boulder Media

Toymaker Hasbro is expanding its TV and feature animation capacity with the purchase of one of Ireland’s largest animation studios, Dublin-based Boulder Media. Terms of the deal, which was announced yesterday, have not been disclosed.

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Boulder may not be a household name, but its shows will be familiar to all. The company has animated projects for many of the majors, including Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and BBC. The studio is currently in production on Go Jetters (CBeebies) and Danger Mouse (BBC), and in the past has animated shows such as Wander Over Yonder (Disney), El Tigre (Nick), Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (Cartoon Network), The Amazing World of Gumball (Cartoon Network), and Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja (Disney). In their announcement of the acquisition, Hasbro indicated that Boulder will continue to animate series for third-party clients, in addition to working on Hasbro’s in-house projects.

“At Hasbro, we’re building our brands through storytelling, and today, we’re telling richer stories across more platforms than ever before,” said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s chairman, CEO, and president. “We are also reinventing traditional modalities of animation production, both creatively and financially. With Boulder, we will deliver the highest quality animation that will engage our audiences with deep storytelling and great characters in a very cost-efficient manner.”

Founded in 2000 by Robert Cullen, Boulder employs approximately 150 full-time staffers. The company will retain its brand, and report to Stephen Davis who leads Hasbro’s entertainment and consumer products licensing division.

Hasbro already has a studio in Los Angeles that employs dozens for pre-production on series like Transformers: Rescue Bots, Micronauts, and Stretch Armstrong. Production on those shows is farmed out to other studios, but the acquisition of Boulder now allows Hasbro to control its entire animation pipeline.

The purchase also fits into Hasbro’s corporate master plan—Brand Blueprint—which takes a page out of Disney’s brands and franchises playbook. This long-term strategy aims to transform Hasbro from a toy manufacturer into a branded toy franchise company that emphasizes strong storytelling surrounding its brands. Animation will obviously play a significant role in the creation of immersive story-driven experiences, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to claim that the animation success of My Little Pony, currently its top licensed brand, had something to do with the development of this corporate strategy in the first place.

“In Boulder, we have found one of the most progressive, innovative, and creative teams in the business,” said Stephen Davis. “We are thrilled to partner with Rob Cullen, Pete Lewis, Jenni MacNeaney and the entire Boulder team as we significantly enhance the execution of our story-led Brand Blueprint strategy.”

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Boulder anticipates that it will “substantially expand” its staff and business operations as a result of this merger.

Last August, another major Irish animation studio Brown Bag Films was acquired by Canadian company 9 Story Media Group.

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