It’s a bold question but is Universal trying to bring Doctor Who to HHN? We thought we would investigate to see if we can dig an answer up…
It’s all about licensing these days. Whether you’re a Funko pop provider or a lunch box maker, licensing other peoples IPs for your product is a very lengthy and complex process, often taking years, even decades to complete.
Both The Exorcist and The Shining for their part in years’ past HHN both took many years of negotiation, sign-off, approval and design before the owners of these properties allowed their characters, sets and stories to be used for HHN. Pepper into the mix the duration it took for Harry Potter to come to IOA or even how long Avatar took before it *finally* opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
But why Doctor Who?
The British TV series has been airing in the UK and around since 1963 with well over a dozen different actors taking on the eponymous character. It has a following in the US and UK, though I would speculate that it is not in the same leagues as other big sci-fi fandoms such as Trek or Wars; however, it is a known brand and is well-liked, if not well followed.
We also know that many of the higher-ups at Universal love this property. Former Head Honcho of HHN Mike Aiello expressed his love for the show on the ScareZone Podcast back in 2016, you can listen here. When asked which show would be very, very hard to bring to HHN but one you would love to see, he answered: Doctor Who.
We do also know that the BBC, who own the rights to the time-travelling show, are not so easy to obtain permission from. We recently reached out to the BBC and they told us:
The producer shall be in control of licensing the rights in their content which are primarily and directly designed to generate secondary commercial revenues, subject to:
a) a period of exclusivity in favour of the BBC which is sufficient for the BBC to deliver its audience promise;
AKA, the BBC would want to test the water first with the use of their characters and shows in their own uses first. Which would suggest that they would want to see their own theme parks and experiences developed first before they ever reach out and license these to other companies. To my knowledge, there aren’t any current running theme park productions out there but that doesn’t mean they’re not being worked on. The rumored “Disneyland of Kent” is rumored to contain BBC properties but its construction has been long delayed.
b) certain provisions to protect the value of the BBC’s licence, reputation, and the investment it has made into the content and the content’s brand; and
Typical with all licensing agreements as they would want to protect their brand and ensure it is not exploited in an inappropriate manner. This is settled by very long design meetings to ensure that every last detail is ironed out before it is released.
c) an appropriate share of revenue payable to the BBC.
Finances to be agreed etc.
d) the BBC recognises that other stakeholders (for example the producer itself and any commercial distributors) may have invested in the content.
Fairly standard wording for any contract, to ensure “open-book” and collaborative working is inspired.
When we reached out to the BBC they neither confirmed nor denied whether any attempts from Universal, NBC, or Comcast have been made to obtain the rights to the show. However, in the UK, if you are not satisfied with the response, you can launch a “Freedom of Information Request” and should you provide the information needed to obtain such a request, you can obtain information from any organization that is publically run, such as the BBC.
We did this, waited a number of weeks and this was the response:
As you can see, they said such matters are handled with the number of profit-making subsidiaries as listed above. The one that would handle such negotiations (should they exist) would be BBC Studios Ltd, and as they are a private company they are not subject to this informational releasing law. That being said, it gives us no confirmation as to whether any discussions have ever been held but it does show us that such programs are routinely being explored for future use at prestigious outlets such as Universal. The company accounts for the period show that:
“various BBC owned properties are being discussed for licensing of experiential events and attractions.”
Could the good Doctor be one of them?
Only time will tell whether we will ever see the Timelord make an appearance at HHN or even Universal Orlando Resort. What with Comcast’s dedication to using their own properties, it might be that such IPs are never realized in the future of Universal Orlando but should any discussions be found or even leaked we will be sure to let you know first!
We’re always on the case, though for this fan speculation we will mark it into the very, very, very unlikely category!
Would you like to see this BBC property or any other BBC property at Univeral Orlando? Let us know in the comments!
Remember: all speculations (such as this) and rumor are just that and nothing is confirmed until Universal says officially.