Hasbro Studios President Talks the ‘My Little Pony’ Movie, Expanding the Brands

Stephen J Davis Hasbro
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety

On the heels of Monday’s announcement that a “My Little Pony” feature film is in the works, Hasbro Studios president and head of global entertainment and licensing for Hasbro Inc. Stephen Davis credited the revitalization of the brand to the television show, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” at Variety’s Entertainment & Technology Summit.

“It was really the catalyst for the reimagining of that brand, and it was incredibly successful on our network,” Davis said. “It’s distributed in 180 countries globally. With that, we’ve used that to re-imagine the product line, look at our digital strategies, our social media strategies … It’s an exciting time to time to be a pony fan or a brony.”

The film, planned for 2017, will be produced by Hasbro’s new film production label, All Spark Pictures. It’s not the only property in the press for Hasbro, as Davis also talked the toy company’s upcoming Oct. 24 release of “Ouija,” a co-production with Blumhose based on the supernatural-themed board game.

For Davis, movies like “Ouija” and “My Little Pony” are not just about selling toys, but create a new opportunity to reach with consumers in a different way.

“I think it gives us an opportunity to tell a bigger story, that maybe we [can’t] tell on television,” Davis said. “This is not about television for the big screen. It’s also an opportunity to broaden the franchise.”

The story comes first when it comes to producing a television show or film based on a Hasbro brand, said Davis.

“We’re in a terrific place by virtue of having some tremendous, well-known brands that lend themselves to terrific stories,” Davis said. “And it’s on that basis that we are driven to create these terrific stories and characters. At the end of the day it’s not about making a 22-minute commercial or a 90-minute commercial, it’s about our consumers and creating different ways to engage with our brand.”

While movie adaptations of popular games and toys can create successful sales boosts of those products, especially when timed with a new product launch, that’s not always the motivation for a film or television show.

“There will be some licensing and a movie-based Ouija board, but that was really about taking a brand and using storytelling to create a different perception of the brand,” Davis said. “When you have 1,500 brands like we do, oftentimes it takes just great storytelling either on the big screen or small screen to keep it fresh, alive and reimagined, and it’s more about that than it is about creating a new toy or licensed brand.”