EXCLUSIVE: We hear that Nickelodeon has won the rights in a competitive situation to Dana Simpson’s comic strip Phoebe and Her Unicorn, a property that the Viacom studio is eyeing as a multi-platform franchise across an TV animated series, movies and more. The final deal points are being hammered out at this moment, we hear.
The daily comic strip initially launched on Universal Uclick’s GoComics website in 2012 before it launched in 100 newspapers in 2015. Phoebe and her Unicorn follows 9-year-old Phoebe Howell, a girl in the fourth grade, who deals with childhood challenges alongside her unicorn Marigold, friend Max and enemy Dakota. Phoebe meets Marigold after skipping a rock across a pond, accidentally hitting the unicorn in the face. Freed from her own reflection, the unicorn—named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils—gives Phoebe one wish, which she decides to use by making the unicorn her best friend. Marigold has magical powers, i.e. she can divert or redirect rain and send text messages and broadcast a Wi-Fi hotspot through her horn. Her most highly coveted power though is her “Shield of Boringness” spell, which causes humans to view her as nothing out of the ordinary and allows her to interact with them on a daily basis.
Roy Lee and Miri Yoon of Vertigo Entertainment are partnering with Bridget McMeel of Andrews McMeel Entertainment to produce Phoebe and Her Unicorn content. Lee brought the project into Darlene Caamaño Loquet, SVP of Nickelodeon Movies, who’ll over the project for Nickelodeon. Roy and Yoon will oversee development.
Fred Nelson and Matt Sheppo will oversee Phoebe and Her Unicorn for Andrews McMeel Entertainment (AME), the entertainment unit of Andrews McMeel Universal. Based in Kansas City, Andrews McMeel Universal is currently co-producing Big Nate, also at Nickelodeon, as well as financing an independent animated Marmaduke feature in production now
Last year, Nickelodeon had the Paramount release Dora and the Lost City based on their 20-year TV cartoon IP. The movie grossed $120.6M off a $49M production cost and has been heralded by Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos as a profitable movie for the studio.
APA reps Andrews McMeel Entertainment and producer Bridget McMeel, and brokered the IP deal on behalf of AME & Dana Simpson. Andrews McMeel Entertainment and producer Bridget McMeel are also represented by Leslie Abell. Dana Simpson is repped by Stuart Rees. Vertigo was repped in the deal by Aron Baumel & Rick Genow of Goodman Genow Schenkman Smelkinson & Christopher LLP, and CAA.