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Licensing Show a Hotbed of Activity for Film

15 Jun, 2001 By: Anne Sherber

NEW YORK — Studios are using the home video and DVD releases of theatricalfilms to extend the life of a licensed property and give licensing partners more time to market and sell consumer goods, according to a number of consumer products executives attending the 21st annual Licensing 2001International here last week.

Jennifer Robinson, v.p. of domestic sales and worldwide publishing, licensing and merchandising at Fox Consumer Products, said Fox has made acommitment to placing product in specialty retailers. She said Tower Records and Video and Musicland Stores Corp. have both made heavy store space commitments to Planet of the Apes product, including metal lunch boxes, bookends, cookie jars and sculpted ceramic mugs, as well as consumerproducts based on the “Simpsons” license. Fox is in discussion withpotential licensing partners for its upcoming digitally- animated feature IceAge, featuring the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary.

Robinson said a title’s DVD and video release can be crucial to the life ofa licensed property, noting that with shortened theatrical runs, especiallyin the crowded summer months, a video release can make the difference between a successful property and an unsuccessful one. “It’s the key way to extend the brand,” she said. To that end, in preparation for a fourthquarter DVD release of Planet of the Apes, director Tim Burton created some of the special features that will appear on the disc while still shooting the film.

Sony Consumer Products is placing a great deal of emphasis on extending thelife of its licensed properties, both in the length of time the property isin front of consumers and in the age range that properties reach. Although two of its upcoming features, Spiderman, due this summer, and Men in Black 2, due next summer, are skewed to older kids and adults, both theatricalreleases will be followed in the fall by new animated television series aimed at younger children. The series’ will have their own licensing efforts attached and will segue into what will likely be fourth-quarter video andDVD releases.

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