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SEE, Universal scare up monster deal

Van Helsing, classic monsters get online world

A month after locking down Michael Jackson, SEE Virtual Worlds has scared up a deal with Universal to build an online destination around Van Helsing and the studio’s classic monsters.

The plan is to launch a massively multiplayer online game late next year in which individuals track down such icons as Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, as monster hunter Van Helsing.

Deal was brokered with Universal Partnerships & Licensing, which has turned the creatures into a popular line of merchandise under the Universal Monsters brand in order to exploit the series of horror films the studio produced, mostly from 1930 through the 1950s.

Universal said pairing up with SEE would give “fans the first opportunity to interact with their favorite characters in a real-time evolving social game,” according Bill Kispert, VP and general manager of digital platforms, Universal Partnerships & Licensing.

The monster mash up is the latest in a universe of so-called planets that SEE wants to launch over the next year as part of its Entropia Universe, based on licenses of TV shows, movies, musicians and other high-profile properties.

In September, SEE said it would create “Planet Michael,” revolving around Jackson’s songs and videos by the end of next year (Daily Variety, Sept. 21), with permission granted by the Michael Jackson Estate.

“Partnering with Universal allows us to revive the horror genre for the 21st century by introducing timeless film franchise characters into an interactive platform,” said Martin Biallas, CEO of SEE Virtual Worlds.

The Entropia Universe, launched in 2003, already has more than 950,000 registered accounts from over 200 countries, and generates revenue from the sale of virtual goods and memberships.

Hollywood has already dabbled with licensing their wares to virtual world operators like Second Life and Habbo, that enable members to buy clothing or products based on movies, TV shows or specific characters.

The rights holders earn revenue from each transaction — a business that’s expected to balloon to $1.6 billion in the U.S. this year, largely because of games like FarmVille on Facebook, according to Inside Network.

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