DreamWorks Animation Acquires Troll Dolls IP

Troll Dolls Group - H 2013

Troll Dolls Group - H 2013

American Girl doll veteran Shawn Dennis will oversee the new franchise for film and TV based on a fad that swept the U.S. half a century ago.

DreamWorks Animation is getting into troll dolls.

The dolls, a huge fad in the 1960s that were revived through the 1990s, will be brought to life as a franchise for film and TV by American Girl doll veteran Shawn Dennis, the company said Thursday.

The Troll Doll was originally created in Denmark in 1959 by Thomas Dam, a fisherman and woodcutter who carved it for his little girl based on Scandinavian legend. The small plastic doll with a shock of brightly colored hair became a major toy fad in the U.S. in the 1960s and gained popularity from the 1970s through the 1990s, when there were video games and a TV show based on the dolls. A 30-minute DiC cartoon special called Magical Super Trolls even featured an evil troll named Craven.

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The Dam Things company in Denmark tried to reinvent it around 2005 under the name Trollz but it never caught on. Now they have sold the rights to DreamWorks Animation, which has been developing brands it owns for its movies (from Kung Fu Panda to How to Train Your Dragon to Monsters vs. Aliens) and possibly for a new children’s TV cable channel it is considering.

“We have big plans for this franchise and Shawn Dennis is uniquely suited to lead this charge,” said DWA COO Ann Daly. “She helped grow the American Girl brand into a household name, and by bringing this expertise to Trolls she will introduce these characters to legions of new fans around the world.”

Dennis will oversee the Troll franchise and other brands within DWA. She has served as senior vp marketing, product development and publishing for American Girl. Before that she was group head and vp global branding at Dell Inc. She was also chief marketing offer and vp for the National Football League. She spent eight years at MasterCard International and seven at Universal Studios in various jobs.

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“Trolls is one of those rare, proven and universally adored brands,” Dennis said in a release. "There is incredible potential here to engage kids across multiple platforms in a way that is fun, enduring and meaningful. It is truly an amazing opportunity to be able to relaunch a brand like this one.”

No price or terms was announced for the deal. DWA gets worldwide rights except in Scandinavia, where Dam Things remains the licensor.

Calle Ostergaard, CEO of Dam Things, said in a statement: “DreamWorks Animation is renowned for telling wonderful stories about imaginative worlds while bringing characters with universal appeal into the hearts and homes of families everywhere -- I can think of no better future for Trolls. We are confident that the time-honored legend of the Trolls, which holds such special significance to the Dam family and the people of Scandinavia, will now live on in new and exciting ways with DreamWorks Animation."