Sunday, May 29, 2005

King Kong (update)

I have a couple of short posts for you today. This first one involves the release of the toy line for the upcoming Peter Jackson version of King Kong. This story comes from License! Magazine:

With the December 14, 2005, release of Peter Jackson's King Kong fast approaching, Universal Studios Consumer Products Group (USCPG) is gearing up with a monster consumer products lineup. Two months later, February 10, 2006, Curious George is scheduled to hit theaters, followed by its TV launch on PBS Kids in fall '06. Although both are being touted as event films, their corresponding licensing strategies differ in that Curious George has a three-pronged brand focus—classic, TV, and film—while King Kong's program is more heavily movie oriented.

"Our strategy for King Kong takes advantage of the theatrical event as a marketing tool," says Beth Goss, executive vice president of Universal Studios Consumer Products Group. "The most important parameter is that we don't allow product on shelves before October 1. It's imperative that we lead with the movie, and that the look and feel of the film is defined by the filmmaker, rather than the licensees." As is typical for a blockbuster film, USCPG's consumer products offerings will cover almost every category. In February, USCPG signed on Playmates Toys to act as master toy licensee with product ranging from 6-, 11-, and 14-inch action figures to a Skull Island playset and several role-play skus, as well as two plush skus. According to Playmates Toys' director of marketing for boys' toys, Michael Rinzler, "We also will offer a collector's line of action figures and PVC dioramas, which will be available in specialty and collector channels." Playmates began work on the toy line last June, along with Weta Workshop, best known for creating a wide range of props, creatures, and armaments for film productions such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and now King Kong.

As USCPG's interactive partner, Ubisoft will release a King Kong video game available worldwide on all platforms for holiday 2005. According to Goss, Ubisoft's development team also worked closely with Jackson on the creation of the game, which reflects the visual interpretation and dramatic narrative of the film. Capitalizing on wireless gaming, USCPG partnered with Gameloft on a multi-year licensing agreement for mobile games, as well as a variety of other mobile content. "Mobile is a big initiative for Universal, and it's a category we spend a good deal of time on," notes Goss. "Our deal with Gameloft is extensive, and we have solidified major carriers in every market."

Franco American Novelty Company entered an agreement to produce King Kong Halloween costumes and masks, marking the company's first licensing deal in its 94-year history. Franco's products will target adult audiences and will debut in time for Halloween. USCPG also has programs lined up for apparel, accessories, home décor and bedding, party goods, and food and beverages. To sustain the brand beyond the theatrical release, Goss notes, it's important to recognize that retail is the linchpin to a great long-term consumer products program. "DVD/video also has become a huge market in helping extend the longevity of a brand, and marketing the videos from our home entertainment group will take us through the end of 2006."

First published in 1941, "Curious George" titles have sold more than 27 million copies worldwide and have been published in 17 languages. USCPG inherited the brand eight years ago, but, explains Goss, "we wanted to keep it as a strong, upstairs literary brand until the company had an appropriate media outlet. We initially focused on higher-end toys and apparel that remained true to the classic George, but at the same time we have been diligent in our strategy to broaden the brand through media." The film launch is itself part of a brand strategy, she adds, "and George is just as much an event film as it is a marketing exercise."

This is one of those stories that may go away so don't be surprise after a day or two that it will not be here. I'm not familiar with License Magazines article durations. enjoy while it's here.


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