Genius Brands International Inc. is changing its name to Kartoon Studios.
The new name better represents the company’s mission and goals of providing animated content for children, according to the Beverly Hills-based outfit.
In connection with the name change, the company will transfer its stock listing from the Nasdaq to the New York Stock Exchange American exchange. The company’s shares began trading under the ticker symbol TOON on June 26.
Andy Heyward, chief executive of Kartoon Studios, said the name change reflects the core DNA of the company: making high-quality and socially responsible animated cartoons for children, distributing them worldwide and licensing consumer products based on the character images.
Moving to the NYSE aligns with the company’s strategy of becoming a leading provider of children’s entertainment, Heyward added.
“NYSE is home to major multimedia powerhouses like Disney, Sony, Roblox, AMC and others,” Heyward said. “We are heading into our next phase of growth, so the timing is ideal for us as a company and our shareholders to make the move.”
The company also announced that “Stan Lee” — via animation — will ring the opening bell of the NYSE when the stock debuts.
Kartoon Studios controls the name, likeness, signature, consumer product licensing and post-Marvel IP of the late Stan Lee, which it has began to bring to market beginning with a 20-year license to Marvel and The Walt Disney Co. and a branding initiative celebrating Lee’s 100th birthday at San Diego Comic-Con in July.
“I encourage investors to join ‘Stan Lee,’ along with management and the board, as he rings the NYSE opening bell on June 26 to celebrate this momentous occasion,” Heyward said.
Kartoon Studios has the capabilities to do everything in house, from content creation to production, distribution and global merchandising, Heyward said.
At the same time, it is expanding its content across wider demographics, ranging from toddlers to young adults, including its recently launched series “Shaq’s Garage,” which premiered this month on Pluto TV, starring and co-produced by former NBA star, Shaquille O’Neal, which caters to a younger audience, he added.
“Additionally, through our Frederator Studios subsidiary, we have several initiatives in content development that skew to a broader audience,” Heyward continued.
“We have an exclusive deal with BuzzFeed Animation Lab to develop select properties into full series based on hit YouTube shorts,” he added. “Concurrently, the company’s series ‘Bee and PuppyCat,’ co-produced with Toho Co. Ltd., has been a breakout hit that led to a Netflix Inc. series and merchandise program with Hot Topic.”
While other companies in the entertainment industry are struggling and declining in the current economic market and amid industry challenges, Kartoon Studios continues to rapidly grow and has multiple new production in various stages of development, Heyward said.
“The company is in development on ‘Blue Origin Space Rangers,’ in partnership with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin LLC and Michael Strahan’s SMAC Productions,” he said in his statement. “And finally, we are in development on ‘Wolfgang Puck’s Chef Academy,’ in collaboration with the celebrity chef.”