Postmortem: Big Idea Productions (Veggie Tales): What happened?
Since IP development seem to be hot topic right now, I think it is a good idea to first take a look at our recent past, to see if we can learn from what went right and what went wrong with other companies.
So lets start with Big Ideas productions.
Back in the early 90’s the company specialized in the creation of faith based content and its seemed that it was on the verge of becoming a media powerhouse.
Two years before Pixar changed the animation world with Toy Story, Big Idea created the first ever computer animated video series in the U.S.
Their crown jewel was “VeggieTales” (Created by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki ), a series of computer animated films featuring anthropomorphic vegetables in stories conveying moral themes based on Christianity. an frankly it was groundbreaking.
And the consumers noticed them and all of the sudden the Veggie tales videos were selling Million of copies.
Big ideas found a niche in the faith based market by making content that kids actually wanted to watch. Of course their quality, back in the early days of CG was NOT even remotely close to Pixar quality, but that did not seem to affect their sales.
They expanded their offerings by releasing another show called 321 Penguins and moving into feature animation.
And then, like a bad Greek tragedy, in a span of a few years, the company collapsed.
And like a scavenger, Dreamworks bought their IP last year.
"In 2003, after management and financial issues and a lawsuit by Lyrick Studios, Big Idea declared bankruptcy and was auctioned off to Classic Media. After purchase by Classic Media, the company relocated to Nashville in 2004.
In March 2009, Entertainment Rights sold its UK- and US-based subsidiaries, including Big Idea and Classic Media, to Boomerang Media. As of 2011 Big Idea, Inc. has been repackaged officially as Big Idea Entertainment, LLC. In July 2012, Big Idea’s parent company, Classic Media, was acquired by DreamWorks Animation and renamed DreamWorks Classics."
I did some digging to see if could find a clear reason why this company went down so quickly, and to my surprise the creator of the “Veggie Tales” has posted online his version of the events that transpired.
this those looking to use their IP to create their own company his blog offer an insight on how an seemly successful enterprise can go from apparent riches to utter failure in short span of years.
"Many people think Big Idea Productions died because of the lawsuit brought against it by Lyrick Studios over general market distribution rights to VeggieTales home videos. While it is fair to say that it was the loss of that lawsuit that forced Big Idea into bankruptcy, it certainly wasn’t the only factor causing Big Idea’s downfall. Others believe the money spent producing and marketing our first movie, Jonah, brought the company down. Originally I had hoped to produce and release the film for less than $15 million total. When the final production and marketing costs came in at nearly twice that, our hopes of recouping our investment vanished. In the end our distributor got all of its marketing investment back, but not a penny made it back to Big Idea to recoup the money we had spent producing the film. So surely that killed the company, right? Not exactly. These two factors were certainly the straws that broke the camel’s back, but the camel was pretty sickly before Jonah even began production, and long before the owner’s of Barney the Dinosaur and Bob the Builder turned a litigious eye toward Bob and Larry.
So what killed Big Idea? Pour yourself some tea, and I’ll tell you the real story."
So guys, what lessons can take from this?
Looking forward to your comments and ideas.