IT’S A MONSTER: Veteran family show producer Ken Hudgens is taking another tour on the road as part of Mattel’s portfolio of brands. (Courtesy vendor)
New tour expands toymaker’s Monster High brand
Family Entertainment Live and Mattel, Inc., the collaboration that launched Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live in 2019 , announced a second franchise thriller: Monster High Live, a national tour kicking off in September.
“We’ve been slowly and steadily trying to both build the company and build the concept portfolio of the company and part of that has been a relationship with Mattel,” said Ken Hudgens, CEO of Family Entertainment Live. “We are super pleased to be able to continue to do more with them and this is the right time.”
The family “spooktacle” is in production and features a new cast of franchise mainstays from the fashion doll line, including Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura and Frankie Stein. The dance-and-song-laced storyline centers on preparing for the school’s annual Monster Ball with music from the live action film and animated series.
The concept has fresh traction. Monster High: The Movie, was a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award nominated live-action musical that debuted at No. 1 in 22 countries on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon during its launch week in October 2022. “Monster High,” the animated series based on the Mattel production, is currently airing on Nickelodeon.
Seasoned producer Full Stop Productions has been tapped to create and design the touring production, which will play arenas. The creative team includes producers Chris Nobels and Nancy Hutson, creative director/choreographer Bart Doerfler and production designer Matheus Fiuza.
“Chris and his team are working with Mattel right now on how to keep the integrity of the story and the characters alive,” Hudgens said. “The most import thing is when the customer shows up in the arena that we are giving them what they expect.”
Hudgens wouldn’t offer specifics, but said the production is a multimillion-dollar undertaking. Despite the cost, he plans to keep ticket prices affordable for families. The average ticket price for the Monster Trucks Live tour is $25.
“My history has always been to price the event with the idea that you are building something as opposed to pricing it for whatever you can get at the time,” Hudgens said. “That has been a core value of mine and it’s a core value of the company. I can’t tell you where the average ticket price for Monster High will end up, but there is nothing more important than delivering family value.”
Hudgens said they are following a similar routing model used to launch Monster Trucks Live. For the new tour, he anticipates booking 60 to 70 venues across the country in the first 18 months.
“We are going to do what we have to do to get established,” Hudgens said. As it goes on throughout the years, just like Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live, we’ll sharpen the touring schedule and continue to add places as we demonstrate the tour’s ability to be successful.”
When it debuted four years ago, Monster Trucks Live played 24 venues. In 2023, the tour will play 47 domestic and 14 international venues and Hudgens expects that number to grow to 70 domestic and 20 international markets in 2024.
“As we get it right and hopefully we are successful, my hope is that the content machine from Mattel keeps producing and we keep delivering a good product,” Hudgens said.
Embracing differences and fostering acceptance is intrinsic to the Mattel brand, which first introduced Monster High in 2010.
“It’s one of the most important parts that is a cornerstone and benchmark of the core principals of the brand, so that will be reflected in casting,” Hudgens explained. “All of those things are taken into account, working with Monster High brand team. Not only do we want to get it right but Mattel has got to get it right because that is their promise to the fans.”
Mattel, a leading global toy company operating in 35 locations with products in more than 150 countries, is heavily involved in merchandising. Hudgens said there are discussion about creating new merchandise specifically designed for the new touring entity.
For Mattel, content is already in the pipeline. Production on both a new season of Monster High’s animated series and a sequel to Monster High: The Movie are underway.
“The live experience is not like anything else,” Hudgens said. “I take very seriously the idea that not only is this a live experience it’s a communal experience. For some kids, this is the first chance for them to see anything live, and in some ways, we are shaping that experience. My hope is that they will be fans for a lifetime.”