Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 08-27-12

Kenn Viselman, producer of “The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure”

Kenn Viselman, producer of “The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure”

“The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure” – In theaters August 29th

“The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure” – In theaters August 29th

Jaime Pressly dancing with the Oogieloves

Jaime Pressly dancing with the Oogieloves

The Oogieloves enjoying a bike ride

The Oogieloves enjoying a bike ride

“Oogieloves” Oogust August may be winding down, but Oogust is just getting started!

In fact, this Wednesday, Oogust 29, will see the wide release of the summer’s last family film — Kenn Viselman Presents’ “The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure” – just in time for Labor Day weekend.

The independently produced and distributed G rated live action “Oogieloves” is unique in that it’s designed for interactive viewing by very young moviegoers.

I was on hand for “Oogieloves’” recent Los Angeles premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Viselman, who produced the picture, explained to an overflow crowd – most of whom brought their kids to see the movie and enjoy the lively pre-screening carnival festivities — that unlike other movies where kids must remain quietly in their seats, “Oogieloves” wants them to get up at certain points to dance and cheer.

“Oogieloves” stars Toni Braxton, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lloyd, Chazz Palminteri, Cary Elwes and Jaime Pressly. Directed by Matthew Diamond (“Camp Rock,” “So You Think You Can Dance”), its story is by Scott Stabile (“I Almost Got Away With It”) and Kenn Viselman, who’s no stranger to creating hit children’s entertainment, having been the force behind “Teletubbies” and “Thomas the Tank Engine.”

Produced by Viselman, written by Stabile and co-produced by Angela Rivet, it was executive produced by Michael A. Chirco, Scot J. Moceri and David R. Schwarcz.

“Kenn Viselman has identified a very underserved moviegoing market of kids between the ages of two and seven,” Schwarcz observed when we spoke as he was leaving for New York for the film’s Oogust 27 premiere at Lincoln Center. “We feel that 'Oogieloves’ is the first in a series of movies that will really serve this market, which needs quality movies of this type.”

“We’ve created both auditory and visual cues that tell the audience when and how to participate,” Viselman told me in an interview when he was planning the film’s release. “Before the movie starts we give you the pre-show and that tells you how the movie works.”

Those instructions are all about butterflies and turtles on screen. “You know that when the butterflies go across the screen it’s time to stand up and when the turtles go across the screen it’s time to sit down,” he explained.

“We’ve created what’s truly interactive, but on so many different levels. While the butterflies are coming across the screen, the youngest child who is a pre-reader knows what that means. The older child, who is school grade, can read the words and interact.”

The process actually results in parents or caregivers bonding with the kids they take to see “Oogieloves.”

“The very young child ends up sitting next to the mother or father or whoever the caregiver is and the caregiver actually ends up reading the words (that accompany those onscreen butterflies and turtles) to the child as though it’s a storybook that’s come to life,” Viselman said.

“It’s created the most fantastic bonding experience that we didn’t anticipate. We knew we were going to allow a caregiver into the child’s world, but we didn’t really anticipate the amount of bonding that happens within the experience.”

“Oogieloves” is the story of three unique young friends living in Lovelyloveville — Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie – who go on an unforgettable adventure when their plans for the best surprise birthday party ever go awry. What they’ve got to do is retrieve five magical golden balloons that have gone missing – they’re stuck in trees or other difficult spots to get to – in order to throw their great surprise birthday celebration for their pal Schluufy.

“Oogieloves” goes into the multiplexes following a string of great summer boxoffice family movie hits like DreamWorks Animation and Paramount’s “Madagascar 3,” Disney and Pixar’s “Brave” and Fox and Blue Sky Studios’ “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Viselman chose the weekend leading into Labor Day to launch “Oogieloves” because it was wide open for a new family film targeted to young children. He told me that while some 65 percent of kids in the U.S. are back in school two weeks before Labor Day, their younger brothers and sisters aren’t.

“We looked at it saying, it’s still summer, it’s still beautiful (weather). For the kids that aren’t in school, what do they have to do? What are young kids doing while their older siblings are in school? We looked at the idea that people use Labor Day weekend (to have fun and they ask their friends), What are you doing on Labor Day? I want them to say, We’re going to see 'The Oogieloves.’”

It’s also great timing, he noted, to generate post-Labor Day viewing: “After Labor Day, when the soccer moms are taking their kids to school and (their friends ask), What did you do Labor Day weekend? I want them to say, We went to 'The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure.’”

Family films are always a great fit with long holiday weekends when parents search for ways to keep their kids occupied.

“I wanted to create an event because (parents will be busy with their) kids Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and what are they going to do with them? They’re going to go to a barbecue one of those days and then what? So it gives them an event and that’s what we were looking for with 'The Oogieloves’ — to be an event. It’s not like any other movie that’s ever been made and I wanted it to feel like something special.”

Bottom line: Look for Oogust to end with some extra boxoffice oomph thanks to Kenn Viselman’s “The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure.”