A Bento Box is a Japanese lunch box wherein the diner enjoys several aspects of a meal conveniently separated, yet somehow fitting together. That works for Bento Box Entertainment, led by cofounder/CEO Scott Greenberg: it not only produces quality animated content but also partners with networks and creators to market entertainment, creating brand extensions that engage fans across platforms.
To boost the engagement around Fox hit Bob’s Burgers, Bento Box created a sold-out live show featuring the cast doing table reads and standup comedy, and assisted with the publication of the Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers.
Now Bento Box applies its formula to Sutikki Entertainment (sutikki means “sticky” in Japanese). The new banner targets family entertainment; its first major project (debuting on BBC’s kid channel CBeebies in 2018): Moon and Me, from Andrew Davenport, creator of Teletubbies and In the Night Garden.
Greenberg talked to B&C contributing editor Paige Albiniak about the secret sauce that powers Bento Box. An edited transcript follows.
What are all of the things that Bento Box is involved in on a broad scale?
Bento Box Entertainment opened its doors in 2009. Our businesses fall into a few different buckets. We are a leading animation studio and we provide animation for third parties and ourselves. Our primary skill set is making writer-driven primetime animated shows for networks and programming services such as Fox, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, Hulu, Twentieth Television, IFC and the like.
We also do digital content, commercials and long-form movies. Animation for us includes 2D, 3D, computer graphics, stop-motion, hybrid live-action and motion puppetry.
I think what makes us really good is we’re a pipeline studio. We focus on creators. We adjust our pipeline around that person to maximize their strengths and build a team around them.
How did it evolve that Bento Box does the kinds of brand extensions that it does, such as the Bob’s Burgers live show or the Brickleberry comic book?
Our strategy always has been to support the creators and engage the fans. It really wasn’t a business-first strategy, it was a creative-first strategy. We’re their partner as these shows evolve.
We really build teams and strategy around each creator. I think that’s what makes us different: We truly care about the material and the creator. We believe if the material’s good, everything else will fall in line.
Partnerships seem very important to Bento Box. How do you strategically approach them?
Rising tides lift all ships. We partner with creators because they are the ones with the vision. Strategically, being a good partner is good for everybody. Philosophically, you want to approach the situation by bringing all of your strengths and separate skill sets to the table.
Someone smarter than me called it a constellation. With Bob’s Burgers, we were blessed to launch on Fox first, and then get a second window on Adult Swim, then Hulu, then 30 days on video-on-demand, then on Netflix. In today’s world, you want to go where your fans are.
What led you to create Sutikki Entertainment?
When we looked at strategic growth opportunities for the company, kids and family entertainment looked globally like a great opportunity. [Guiding execs] Andrew [Kerr] and Irene [Weibel] are people we knew and trusted. They are two of the best in the business with proven track records, expertise and relationships. In under a year, we have an important preschool show coming out on BBC with Moon and Me. For me, it’s about having the best and brightest on our team and leveraging Bento Box’s infrastructure.
What’s next for Bento Box?
Our next major strategy focuses on how we will grow internally. Two places we want to go are feature animation and live action. But those are two big lanes we haven’t opened up yet.
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