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The Not-So-Lazy Days of Licensing

20 Jun, 2002 By: Bruce Apar

Hollywood studios drew plenty of interest from retailers at the recent Licensing 2002 International show at Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

As noted in Video Store Magazine last week, this was the first year Disney has exhibited, joining Fox, Lucasfilm, MGM, Miramax, New Line, Sony Pictures, Universal, Viacom and Warner Brothers.

For Warner Bros.' “The Powerpuff Girls,” the Cartoon Network animated darlings arriving on the big screen Fourth of July weekend, toy lines will be refreshed for the holidays and for spring 2003 plan-o-grams, when the video is expected. The company also spotlighted Scooby-Doo in preparation for the theatrical opening and, of course, Harry Potter-branded opportunities and Looney Tunes characters.

For its September 2002 DVD release of “Stargate SG-1”;'s Season Two compilation, MGM is including inserts promoting exclusive merchandise. With an eye toward a February 2003 repromotion of its “Soul Cinema Collection” on video, MGM later this year launches the Soul Cinema apparel line from urban outfitter Willie Esco. The “Rocky” film series will be repromoted summer 2003 in individual volumes and a five-film gift set, backed by an extensive array of “Rocky” merchandise.

Twentieth Century Fox will have “extensions on the toy side” during the 2002 holiday season for animated hit Ice Age, according to Peter Byrne, EVP of licensing and merchandising.

In addition to Viacom's new program to license out holiday perennial It's a Wonderful Life and MGM's classics push, the notable surge in cult-film licensing activity includes Universal's The Fast and the Furious, as well as Viacom's “South Park,” Top Gun and “Star Trek,” with the sci-fi series' 10th theatrical episode, Nemesis, in theaters this December and new fall 2002 episodes of the TV series “Enterprise.”

Universal Studios Consumer Products Group SVP Tim Rothwell said the studio has built an automotive aftermarket line, due this fall, around The Fast and the Furious, a surprise box office phenomenon with a sequel slated for summer 2003. For The Scorpion King, Rothwell said there will be new promotional partners for collectible cards, action figures and CD-ROM cards to promote the Oct. 1 video release.

For its “The Land Before Time” series, with another title coming soon, Universal has an exclusive merchandise line of toddler items available through Walgreen's as part of a co-branded deal.

There is some new licensed merchandise being introduced this summer in a second wave of merchandising for New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The move coincides with the August and November video releases and builds momentum for the fall theatrical release of the next film in the trilogy, The Two Towers. Although there is not a special program pegged to the video release, the studio is taking advantage of the timing to match the merchandise look to the motif of the video marketing program.

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