Hello Kitty is coming to America in a big way. New Line Cinema and FlynnPictureCo. are developing an English-language film project based on the ever-popular Hello Kitty franchise from Japan, Warner Bros. Pictures announced today. This is both the first movie deal struck with a major studio outside of Japan in the brand's 45-year history.
In addition to the pink-bowed, and mouthless icon, New Line (owned by Warner Bros.) and FlynnPicture are also receiving the film rights to Gudetama, My Melody, Little Twin Stars, and more well-known characters from the Hello Kitty universe. The process of acquiring the rights took five years; with this done, writers and other creative talent can now be hired as the movie ramps up active development.
“I am extremely pleased that Hello Kitty and other popular Sanrio characters will be making their Hollywood debut. Hello Kitty has long been a symbol of friendship and we hope this film will only serve to grow that circle of friendship around the world," Sanrio's founder/president/CEO, Shintaro Tsuji, said in a statement.
First introduced in Japan circa 1974, Hello Kitty's first-ever piece of paraphernalia was a coin purse. A year later, the character debuted in the United States and ballooned into a massive global phenomenon that now spans all kinds of products and mediums in 130 countries. In 2014, the BBC clocked in the brand's net worth as $7 billion and that figure has probably grown (perhaps exponentially) since. Nostalgia is so great for franchise, that it was prominently featured in Netflix's docuseries, The Toys That Made Us.
“We are thrilled to partner with Sanrio and FlynnPictureCo. on developing a film based on this treasured icon. It’s a rare privilege to have the opportunity to explore the possibilities of such timeless IP. Hello Kitty and her friends have been part of our shared culture for decades, and we look forward to exploring where her newest adventure will take her," said NewLine's President and Chief Content Officer, Carolyn Blackwood.
Right now, it is unclear whether the film adaptation will be live-action or animated, but most folk would probably agree that animation would be the best route for bringing Hello Kitty and her friends to the big screen in North America.
“Hello Kitty has been one of the most beloved characters around the world for the last forty-plus years," said FlynnPictureCo. CEO, Beau Flynn. "We’re incredibly honored that President Tsuji has entrusted us with the responsibility of bringing her story to the big screen globally for the first time ever, and it’s a dream that we get to do this with our long-term partners at New Line and Warner Bros. With the positive and family-oriented values that Hello Kitty and Sanrio embody, there has never been a better time than now to share her message with the world!”