DreamWorks SKG's upcoming animated feature film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, scheduled to open May 24, will stand apart from its box office competition. The tale of a mustang stallion named Spirit, a mare named Rain, and their journey through the soon-to-be-tamed American West, the film's message is "freedom is worth fighting for." This will play even more strongly to post-9/11 moviegoers. "This movie feels like something people want to be associated with," says Brad Globe, head of consumer products licensing at DreamWorks SKG in Glendale, CA. Spirit was in development for several years before the events of September 11, and the film's struggle-for-freedom theme was already written into the story, explains Shannon Nicosia, DreamWorks consumer products licensing. Beyond its narrative, Spirit will be animated in 2D, a more traditional animation effect. Further, the story is told in narration, and the lead horse characters do not talk.In terms of licensing, Spirit promises to be one of the strongest film-related girls' properties since Disney released The Little Mermaid in 1989. DreamWorks is branding its merchandising program under The Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Collection banner and has rounded up a strong core group of about 20 licensees in eight merchandise categories. The core of the program will be built around apparel and accessories for girls in the 'tween age group. Jerry Leigh Entertainment Apparel in Los Angeles will make an extensive line of fashion apparel, and Leeward International in New York will make sleepwear. Chicago-based Fruit of the Loom will produce underwear.Other key licensees include Hallmark in Kansas City, MO, for greeting cards and party goods and Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. in Santa Clarita, CA, for gift, plush, novelties, and collectibles.While Spirit's merchandising is primarily aimed at girls, the film's theme and licensing program doesn't exclude boys. Nicosia points out that many of the toys from toy licensee Wow Wee/Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI, will appeal to boys.
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