New Line said the partnership marks the only time Sanrio, the Japanese company behind the toy, has granted film rights to the silent Hello Kitty and friends, including the cracked egg character Gudetama, the rabbit character My Melody, and Little Twin Stars, to a major film studio. Tuesday’s announcement did not indicate whether the “Hello Kitty” feature film will be animated, live-action, or a hybrid.
The “Hello Kitty” will be produced by Beau Flynn and executive produced by Wendy Jacobson for FlynnPictureCo. A search for writers and creative talent will commence immediately. New Line said it had spent nearly five years pursuing the movie rights.
Hello Kitty was initially designed in 1974 and introduced on a coin purse a year later. She can be found in 130 countries on more than 50,000 different branded products each year. The character has never talked.
“I am extremely pleased that Hello Kitty and other popular Sanrio characters will be making their Hollywood debut,” Sanrio founder, President and CEO Shintaro Tsuji said. “Hello Kitty has long been a symbol of friendship and we hope this film will only serve to grow that circle of friendship around the world.”
New Line executives Richard Brener and Carolyn Blackwood said in a joint statement, “We are thrilled to partner with Sanrio and FlynnPictureCo. on developing a film based on this treasured icon.”
Flynn’s producing credits include “Rampage,” “Skyscraper,” “San Andreas” and the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” franchise.
“Hello Kitty has been one of the most beloved characters around the world for the last forty-plus years,” Flynn said. “We’re incredibly honored that President Tsuji has entrusted us with the responsibility of bringing her story to the big screen globally for the first time ever, and it’s a dream that we get to do this with our long-term partners at New Line and Warner Bros. With the positive and family-oriented values that Hello Kitty and Sanrio embody, there has never been a better time than now to share her message with the world!”
New Line is part of Warner Bros., which has produced and released four Lego movies in the past five years and is developing “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James and Bugs Bunny. Warner Bros. announced Monday that it is moving Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang under the studio’s management is an effort to better marry the TV brands with Warner Bros.’ animation assets, which include the Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera vaults.