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Saban buys into monkey business

Power Rangers owner adds Paul Frank Industries

When Haim Saban’s newly formed Saban Brands shingle bought lifestyle company Paul Frank Industries, it’s clear the billionaire media mogul meant business.

The move marked the second acquisition via the $500 million fund for Saban Brands, following May’s acquisition of the Power Rangers franchise from Disney.

The acquisition of the PFI intellectual property instantly funneled the rights to more than 150 characters into the Saban empire, including the omnipresent monkey Julius — and it left everyone asking, “What are they going to do with that monkey?”

Saban Brands prexy Elie Dekel says sky’s the limit.

“We’re going into development for new concepts for interactive entertainment,” he says. “Feature film, an animated series, holiday specials for television, live entertainment, games — all of these concepts are in discussion.”

Ryan Heuser, who is staying on as chief creative officer of Paul Frank, says the California-based group, which launched in 1995, had been approached by a number of Hollywood majors throughout the years to exploit the brand for film and television opportunities but the “timing was never right.

“Saban Brand checked all the boxes,” he says. “We are really looking to be ultimately creative in what we’re experts in — design and marketing — and the Saban deal will provide us with strong business management, structure and creative environment so the brand can flourish.”

The deal, believed to be worth close to $50 million although financial terms were not disclosed, marks a concerted effort by Saban to build a diverse portfolio of properties that can be managed and marketed around the world.

So can we expect a Power Rangers vs. Julius spinoff in the near future?

“We’re in no rush,” says Dekel. “This brand has done just fine and we intend to shore that up and help it grow organically. We’re actively going into development, but bringing any content to fruition is a collaborative process that takes time. Everything is on the table.”

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