Media Decoder: Equestria Girls, a My Little Pony Offshoot, in Its Movie Debut

May 13th, 2013

A film titled “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls” will introduce Hasbro’s teenage offshoot of its popular pony brand.

Hasbro, the toy company that brought its Transformers and G.I. Joe properties to movie theaters, has set its sights on its next summer blockbuster: My Little Pony.

The ponies, a Hasbro staple for 30 years, have experienced a resurgence of popularity lately, thanks in part to the TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” Hoping to build on that interest, Hasbro recently revealed plans for brand extension called Equestria Girls.

The new property will get the red-carpet treatment when it premieres as a full-length animated feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The movie, created by Hasbro Studios, the company’s production division, will then be released in more than 200 theaters nationwide; its trailer will start appearing in theaters on Wednesday.

“We are responding to the desire by our fans to experience the brand in more ways,” said John A. Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer. “They imagined themselves as which pony they would be or which pony they identified with the most.”

So Hasbro created Equestria Girls, a parallel world in which the My Little Pony characters were reconceived as teenage girls in high school. To maintain continuity, Hasbro retained the same creative talent, animation style and message of friendship.

“Our goal is to stay true to who those characters are,” said Meghan McCarthy, the head writer for the movie, adding that the high school setting allowed for new storytelling possibilities. “It’s new but still an extension of our mythology.”

The movie — titled “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls” — will be released on DVD later in the United States and other markets worldwide, followed by a television debut on the Hub network in the fall.

“It is a major strategic initiative for us,” Mr. Frascotti said, one that will feature toys, apparel, publishing and accessories. Multimedia components include an interactive Web site, content on YouTube and a partnership with Stardoll.com, a fashion Web site for girls.

Hasbro does not break out revenue for My Little Pony, but in its earnings statement in April, the company said its girls’ category rose 23 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, growth that was helped in part by the My Little Pony brand.

Equestria Girls offers an opportunity to build on that growth, said Michael Vogel, vice president for development at Hasbro Studios. “This is a bold new direction,” he said.

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