eOne has been stepping up its IP drive since it was acquired by Hasbro at the end of 2019.
The company is developing an animated remake of Clue at Fox, plotting the film and television world of Dungeons & Dragons and has teamed up with House of Cards’ Beau Willimon to develop a scripted version of Risk.
It is now extending this strategy to the unscripted business – a world that has recently seen developments including Fremantle and Mattel working on a TV version of Whac-A-Mole and Propagate working with Mattel on a gameshow based on Uno.
“Right when Lego Masters worked really well is when Hasbro acquired eOne, and the light bulb went off. We have all this IP so we started developing shiny floor shows and different types of formats where we’re starting with a piece of IP instead of starting from scratch,” Geno McDermott, President, U.S. Alternative Programming – Unscripted Television, told Deadline.
The company hasn’t revealed which toys and games it is developing unscripted ideas for but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll see a cooking format based on the Easy-Bake Oven, a physical competition format based on Buckaroo! or a Guess Who? gameshow. Hasbro also owns the rights to Monopoly, Operation, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit.
McDermott and his team are currently talking to showrunners to develop many of these into TV formats.
“Most games that you think of on the top of your head were made by and owned by Hasbro. It’s really a treasure trove for us to go in there. We have a lot of them set up already with many buyers across the marketplace and more being set up,” he added.
Elsewhere, the company also has a number of pod deals and overall partnerships with talent outside of the board game and toy space. It is working with the likes of Siesta Key and Behind The Music producer Creature Films and best-selling cookbook author and TV host Ayesha Curry and her production company Sweet July Productions, to develop new projects, and is also talking to stars such as Hustlers’ Keke Palmer and author James Patterson about unscripted projects. Although these last two deals came through its scripted division, it’s a trend that’s happening more and more across the industry.
Creature Films scored a high-profile Quibi series during the short-form platform’s short window in operation – On Beat. The show follows a group of young dancers in real-time. Roku has subsequently acquired the library and McDermott hinted that the show has been taken elsewhere. “Roku went through the shows and they decided which ones they wanted and which ones they didn’t, and the ones that they didn’t want, we were able to take them back out and set them up with other places,” he said.
McDermott said that it is developing projects across genres including reality series, gameshows, shiny floor formats, blue-chip wildlife and documentary series.
On the latter, Blackfin, the production company set up by McDermott and sold to eOne in 2019, recently produced true-crime documentary Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygård. eOne is also making six-part short-form docuseries Impact with Gal Gadot for Nat Geo.
He said that the challenge is no longer selling an idea or a logline but shooting interviews and tape before taking it out, similar to the way that he sold Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez documentary series to Netflix.
The company is also in the reality space, although he cautioned that it’s a trickier business than it used to be. “As a guy that started my career 10, 12 years ago when the cable business was at its peak, where you could wake up in the morning and sell Pawn Stars, you just can’t do that anymore. A lot of producers 10 to 15 years ago would sell these reality shows that would go on for 10 seasons with 20-30 episodes a season. Despite all the buying that’s happening right now, it’s really hard to pull that off in this day and age,” he said.