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Sandra Stern Dishes on Candy Crush


Sandra Stern, the president of Lionsgate Television Group, talks to TV Formats about the new show Candy Crush, which is based on the hit mobile game played around the globe.

In the Candy Crush Saga mobile game, players match colorful candies in combinations of three or more to win points, overcome obstacles and make their way through more than 2,000 levels. The globally popular game was the inspiration for the new live-action show Candy Crush, in which teams of two contestants use their mental and physical abilities to compete on giant, interactive, high-tech game boards. Pulse Creative is producing Candy Crush in association with Lionsgate Television, CBS Television Studios and King, which released the mobile game. Executive producers include creator Matt Kunitz, Peter Levin, Russell Binder, John Quinn, Nicki Sheard and Sebastian Knutsson. CBS ***Image***Television Distribution is selling the program domestically, while Lionsgate is handling international distribution.

“We acquired the property and then began exploring the best way to translate something you play on a mobile device into a big television show and figuring out what that show should look like,” says Sandra Stern, the president of Lionsgate Television Group. “So we went wide to the community and said, ‘Come and bring in your pitches.’ People pitched widely and wildly; we heard everything! Some people dressed as candy—it was fun. And at the end of the day, Matt Kunitz, who is part of our family, came up with what we thought was really the perfect pitch, which was a physical version of the Candy Crush gameplay.”

Stern points out that the physical element of the show has been designed to be fun and appealing to participants of all ages and athletic abilities, and relatable to the show’s target audience. “We have specially designed, giant boards nearly 30 ***Image***feet tall that create a lot of opportunities for different kinds of gameplay that everyone can enjoy and reflect those attributes of the property that make it so unique.”

According to Stern, it was imperative to King to maintain the integrity of the Candy Crush Saga mobile game when bringing it to life for the small screen. “There are certain colors that are associated with Candy Crush and certain words that you use in the Candy Crush vocabulary because there are certain emotions that they want to draw forth and have identified with the game,” she says. “It’s a very important brand and if they were going to entrust it to somebody, they wanted to make sure that their brand was going to be respected.”

Lionsgate is selling Candy Crush as a finished series and format. “Many territories are very happy to buy tapes, but in unscripted, local versions are really important to the buyers,” says Stern. “In this case, for a local version, you need to actually create that board. That can be an expensive proposition, but it’s less expensive in our version because we had all of the R&D that went into trying to figure out how to do it. We know what has to be discarded, we know what works, the software has all been finalized, and it can be done for a fraction of the initial spend. But still, it’s an investment, and so the challenge for all of us is to figure out how to amortize the costs.”

The first edition of Candy Crush is due to debut on CBS in the U.S. on Sunday, July 9, with Extra presenter Mario Lopez serving as host. The show will make its premiere at 9 p.m. immediately after Big Brother.



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