Fox expands live event biz

Studio's consumer products unit taps exec to oversee growing slate

Greg Lombardo has been tapped for a new role at Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products that will be key in turning the studio’s franchises into theme park attractions and touring shows.

Since Jeffrey Godsick became president of the division last October, the exec has focused heavily on brokering deals that get family films like “Ice Age,” “Rio” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” and more adult fare like “Titanic,” “Aliens” and “Planet of the Apes,” in front of audiences as live entertainment experiences. Lom-bardo, who has a deep background in the event biz, will serve as veep of location-based entertainment.

In April, Fox teamed with Stage Entertainment to produce “Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure” as a live arena show that bows Nov. 2 at London’s Wembley Arena before going on its five-year tour. This summer, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs — The 4-D Experience” launched from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Company also has “The Simpsons Ride” at Universal’s theme parks, and is prepping an “Avatar”-themed park for Disney’s “Animal Kingdom” park in Orlando.

Lombardo will now oversee similar deals around the world, spearheading the sales efforts for branded experiences based on Fox’s film and TV shows, especially in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Fox considers the deals as building blocks for growing franchises.

“The goal for being more aggressive in location-based entertainment offers our audiences around the world further immersion into our brands,” Godsick said. “This will be key in building these properties into true franchises.”

Godsick cited “Ice Age” as a year-round franchise, with movies, a TV special, live show, Imax experience and attractions at three amusement parks in Italy, Germany and the U.K. housed in themed areas, complete with photo ops with characters and branded rooms in area hotels. Studio is introducing four new characters in the arena show and putting established characters in a new story.

Lombardo has spent the last five years as creative director for BRC Imagination Arts, a company that developed branded attractions for General Motors, Pepsi, Bacardi and Hyundai. He also served as the creative director, writer and producer for the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010. Earlier in his career, he served as artistic director for New York’s National Shakespeare Co.

Fox was attracted to Lombardo given his experience working with Chinese brands China Mobile, Evergrande and Zoomlion as the studio looks to increase its franchises’ presence in the region, especially for “Ice Age.” Studio also aims to boost its characters in Malaysia, South Korea, Brazil, UAE, Turkey and Russia.

“This is a fantastic time to be at Fox,” said Lombardo. “These are globally embraced and incredibly relevant properties and I look forward to pursuing new and exciting ways to bring them to life.”

Even before TV advertising begins in London and Germany, Fox already has sold more than 59,000 tickets to “Ice Age Live!”

Lombardo will next look at turning several other Fox properties into arena shows and Broadway stage productions.

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