aficionados still discuss the decision by filmmaker George Lucas in 1977 to make the first movie from the fourth episode in the so-called Known Galaxy. But it's exactly this type of fan obsession and all the "what ifs" that have contributed to the popularity and longevity of the franchise as well as the growth and success of Lucas Films.
Lucas Licensing, the licensing and merchandising division of the privately held company, has become a true global empire in its own right. With licensing agreements in more than 100 markets worldwide, Lucas Licensing has been able to accomplish with virtually one brand and franchise what many companies haven't with a portfolio of brands. In addition, Lucas's longstanding partnerships with retailers, suppliers, and licensees are case-study examples of how to coordinate, promote, and maximize merchandise sales and development. In 2005,
merchandise generated $3 billion in retail sales, the biggest year in its history.
celebrates its 30th anniversary, Lucas Licensing is entering a new era of growth and development that will leverage its strengths and also take it into other areas of the entertainment business. These new ventures, while albeit somewhat risky, come at a time when the company must find new avenues of growth to position it for the next decade and beyond. The future is now for Lucas Licensing, and 2008 will provide a barometer of success as several new ventures will begin to debut.
Indiana Jones. The fourth movie in the series, which will once again team Harrison Ford as the intrepid archaeologist with director Steven Spielberg, is the first sequel in 19 years. It will debut May 22, 2008, coincidentally the same time of year when Lucas debuted the original Star Wars and began the era of the summer blockbuster. While a whole new generation of fans will be exposed to the franchise, it begs the question as to how popular it can be after such a long period of time. The hiatus actually benefited the Star Wars franchise and Lucas believes, considering the huge promotional efforts, that Indiana Jones will quickly be embraced not only by the generation that experienced the original movies, but an entirely new generation of fans. Several major licensees are already committed, including Hasbro, Lego, Hallmark, Random House, Scholastic, and Lucas Arts.
The Clone Wars TV series.
Scheduled for Fall 2008, this 22-episode series is being touted for its state-of-the-art computer generated graphics.
Live-action TV series.
This series, currently under development for a 2009 release, has the allure and fascination of being directed by George Lucas. It will target a slightly older age group than the animated series.As it continues to celebrate
30th Anniversary, Lucas Licensing is facing similar challenges of its partners as it looks for new avenues of growth. The key for the merchandising division is to stay focused on its evergreen properties and core categories as it has over the past three decades. And let the millions of fans continue to discuss
nostalgia and speculate what's the next move for the venerable franchise.
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