Fox partners with Stage Entertainment Touring to launch five-year travles

Fox is hitting the road with its “Ice Age” franchise.

With three animated pics having earned $1.9 billion worldwide, the studio has partnered with Stage Entertainment Touring Prods. to produce a live show that will bow in November 2012 and crisscross the world for five years. Tour starts at London’s Wembley Arena before traveling to 30 countries.

As Fox readies a fourth film, “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” skedded to unspool July 6, the studio has been eager to find new ways to turn the franchise into a brand outside of megaplexes and keep it fresh in families’ minds — especially overseas, where the perf of the third entry surprised the biz in territories including Italy and Russia.Altogether, the “Ice Age” franchise has earned more than $4 billion in B.O., home entertainment and consumer products sales, according to Fox. The studio aired the property’s first TV holiday special, “Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas,” on Thanksgiving night, generating a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49.

The films’ main characters are voiced by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott and Queen Latifah.

“Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure” is “part of our long-term franchise strategy for the brand,” said Jeffrey Godsick, prexy of Fox Consumer Products. “We’re realizing our movies are pop culture events. As a property, (‘Ice Age’) really resonates with people. We’re at a point now where we’ve seen every element of ‘Ice Age’ do really well,” and the stage version will enable fans to “really get immersed in the world where you can feel, you can touch.”

Robert Marick, exec VP of Fox Consumer Products, added that the “Ice Age” show “furthers our commitment to bringing the very best in live entertainment to fans, and we couldn’t think of a better partner to blaze this new frontier with than Stage Entertainment.”

“Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure” will feature the franchise’s characters in a new storyline, not tied to the films, and combine ice skating, aerial arts, film and puppetry.

Guy Caron, behind the Cirque du Soleil productions “Ka” and “Drailon,” will helm the show, based on a story and featuring music and lyrics by Ella Louise Allaire and Martin Lord Ferguson, whose credits include Cirque du Soleil shows, “Holiday on Ice” and APM Music. Costumes will be designed by Michael Curry, also a Cirque du Soleil vet, whose work has been featured in Olympics ceremonies.

Development on the production is still in its early stages, with the studio having approved the concept but overall designs still being worked out.

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products brokered the deal with Stage and is managing the production for the studio.

Founded by Joop van den Ende in 1998, Stage Entertainment is best known for producing the popular show “Holiday on Ice” in Europe but has also worked on “Tarzan,” “The Lion King,” “Aida,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “High School Musical” with Disney Theatrical Prods; “Mamma Mia!” with Littlestar; “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita” with Andrew Lloyd Webber/Really Useful Group; “Oliver” and “Les Miserables” with Cameron Mackintosh; and “Dirty Dancing” with Jacobsen Entertainment, among other shows. Company claims more than 14 million people visit Stage Entertainment’s shows each year.

“The bridge between ‘Holiday on Ice’ and ‘Ice Age’ is obvious,” said Stage Entertainment spokesperson Sjoerd Unger. “It was the starting point of considering how to make a live show out of an animated movie. But (the ‘Ice Age’ show) won’t be a show where we just put people in a costume and move them around. We wanted to develop it in a very artistic way where we bring the characters to life.”

After the U.K., the “Ice Age” arena show will travel to Germany and the rest of Europe for three years, before playing in the U.S. for two years. It will visit South America, Australia and Asia during that time, as well.

“This is a big step in the development of our company and perfectly fits our ambition to produce the best arena shows for a worldwide audience, working with the most professional partners,” said Caspar Gerwe, CEO of Stage Entertainment Touring Prods.

With “Ice Age,” Fox becomes the latest studio to turn one of its top properties into a live touring show.

DreamWorks Animation is prepping to premiere its “How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular” from Melbourne, Australia, in March, while the toon studio’s DreamWorks Theatricals division is developing “Kung Fu Panda: The Arena Spectacular” in China for a fall launch.

The Mouse House currently has “Disney on Ice” and “Phineas and Ferb Live!” on tour.

And the BBC’s arena show based on the docu series “Walking With Dinosaurs” has been touring the world since 2007, playing well with the family aud.

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