The major entertainment studios did their part to help set the mood and atmosphere for the debut of Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas last month with dazzling new booth designs and major new licensing initiatives.

April 6, 2018

8 Min Read

The major entertainment studios did their part to help set the mood and atmosphere for the debut of Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas last month with dazzling new booth designs and major new licensing initiatives. i1_651.jpg

The world's largest licensor, Disney Consumer Products, boasted a completely new booth, featuring an open, airy look, and Hasbro, featuring Bumblebee from Transformers, greeted attendees at one entrance to the exhibit hall at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel highlighted new booths at the other entrance. In addition, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal returned to the exhibit floor in a big way with several new licensing and merchandising programs.

From Mickey Mouse to Toy Story to Princesses, DCP highlighted its new licensing initiatives and emphasized Mickey in its signage around the exhibit hall, a change from its focus on its teen properties that were promoted over the past few years.

The new Mickey art program, called Mickey By, features Disney and commissioned non-Disney artists and their interpretations of the classic Mickey pose. The artwork will be used in various products. i2_329.jpg

With the new theatrical release of Toy Story 3 in summer 2010, DCP is developing an extensive merchandise assortment, from light-up apparel and home décor to innovative toy lines, such as the motor-powered Ultimate Buzz Lightyear robot, collectible figures, food, personal care, stationery and party items. Lego will debut a new toy line next spring.

Other new characters and entertainment that will help drive growth for DCP worldwide include two new Disney Princess characters, Princess Tiana (in December's The Princess and the Frog) and Rapunzel (scheduled for December 2010); a new Winnie the Pooh theatrical movie for spring 2011; and the expansion of the Disney Fairies film series to five releases.

In addition, Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" was renewed for a fourth season, and the "Handy Manny" preschool series will add two primetime specials and a new 20-episode short-form series.

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising announced several new licensing efforts based on new programming, as well as expanded plans for its established franchises.

Fox announced its first licensees for the Family Guy spinoff series, "The Cleveland Show," premiering in the fall. Changes will create a new line of T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, while Briefly Stated will debut loungewear, underwear and sleepwear.

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Fox also announced expanded licensing efforts for The Simpsons, Ice Age and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Fox announced several new international deals for The Simpsons franchise. In the U.K., the largest country for merchandise outside the U.S., Fox announced cycling jerseys, as well as a new program targeted to women that focuses on the female characters. In Spain, Fox announced a deal with Danone, a leading dairy food company, for a line of healthy kids' desserts. In Latin America, Fox signed DTR deals with Walmart de Mexico and La Falabella, plus deals with Unilever in Brazil and Monthelado in Chile for branded ice cream.

For Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which premiered July 4th weekend, Fox has signed more than 200 licensees, including major deals in the U.S. with HarperCollins for story and puzzle books, and Hallmark for cards and party goods.

And for the sequel to Alvin and the Chipmunks scheduled for Christmas release, Fox announced deals with Jakks Pacific for plush, dolls, play sets and novelty toys and HarperCollins for story books. The sequel and licensing efforts will feature the Chipettes for the first time.

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In addition to being back on the exhibit floor, Universal announced a newly formed in-house licensing division that will oversee all consumer product licensing, film and home entertainment promotions, as well as corporate partnerships for its theatrical, home entertainment, theme parks and stage productions.

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Universal Product & Licensing combines the studio's two existing groups: Consumer Products Group and Universal Studios Partnerships. Stephanie Sperber will lead the new division as executive vice president; Amy Taylor is senior vice president of North America promotions, worldwide licensing and retail development; David O'Connor is senior vice president of brand management and marketing services; and Stephanie Testa is vice president of corporate sponsorships.

UPL's efforts at this year's show were highlighted by Despicable Me, a 3-D CGI feature scheduled for July 2010 and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

In addition, UPL continues to expand its Curious George property, recently announcing a live show that will begin this fall. Presented by VEE Corporation, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Universal Studios Family Productions and Houghton Harcourt Publishing Company, an original live musical stage production will debut on Oct. 1 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, followed by more than 40 other cities throughout spring 2010.

Imagi Studios announced a licensing program for its new feature film, Gatchaman, based on the anime series and scheduled for release in 2011.

"We are pleased to bring another strong property in the form of a Gatchaman movie to the licensing community," says Erin Corbett, president of Imagi Studios U.S. and chief marketing officer worldwide. "Over the past 20 years, the Gatchaman property has demonstrated a proven track record for licensees, and we are confident that our new feature film will add another chapter and opportunity for our partners."

In addition, Imagi's Astro Boy, which will be released in October by Summit Entertainment, continues to add licensing deals through its exclusive licensing agent, Striker Entertainment, that includes American Greetings, D3Publisher, Jazwares and Kellogg.

With the award-winning success of the licensing efforts of the first Twilight movie, Summit Entertainment and Striker Entertainment are well into the new deals for the sequel, New Moon, scheduled for release in November, as well as for the third film, Eclipse, scheduled for June 2010.

While Sony's booth design highlighted The Smurfs, which will make its big-screen debut in December 2010 from Columbia Pictures, some of the behind-the-scenes discussions also focused on the next installment of a Ghostbusters movie, pending an official green light from the studio.

For DreamWorks Animation, the storyline in licensing is Shrek. The fourth film is set for May 2010 and has become a strong franchise worldwide. Looking ahead to 2011, the sequel to Kung Fu Panda is scheduled for June release, and licensing efforts are already under way.

While Pink Panther remains a strong property in licensing, MGM is focused on Fame, which will premiere in September. Licensing is being handled by New York-based Brandgenuity in the U.S. and Rocket Licensing in the U.K. Licensees include American Greetings, MTC Marketing and Accessory Innovations. For 2010, MGM is developing licensing efforts on two films: The Zookeeper and The Three Stooges.

With the record-breaking box office performance of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the upcoming debut of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, both in conjunction with Hasbro, Paramount Pictures is certainly part of the overall blockbuster buzz. But on the licensing side, the studio is focused on the next two years with Footloose in 2010 and Rango and TinTin both slated for 2011.

Paramount Licensing continues to pursue licensing deals for its iconic properties including Godfather, Grease and Up in Smoke.

For example, Up in Smoke, written by and starring iconic '70s comedy team Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, has been staging a reunion tour.

Recently announced are several licensing deals that include: American Greetings for greeting cards; C&D Visionary for a line of buttons, coffee mugs, disposable lighters, refillable lighters, incense, incense burners, magnets, patches, shot glasses and carrying pouches; Destiny Productions for portable electric grills; Diamond Select for Cheech & Chong collectible Minimates; Fifth Sun for men's and women's tees; and Hot Sauce Harry's for hot sauce, salsa and grilling sauce under the Up in Smoke brand.

In addition, Paramount Licensing signed an agreement with VIP Partnership to develop and manage a Paramount-branded online store.

The store will carry merchandise based on upcoming films, popular studio library titles and the iconic Paramount logo. The Paramount online store, www.paramountstore.com, is slated to launch this summer.

In addition to the major commitment to its Harry Potter franchise, highlighted by the sixth movie released this month (see License! Global June issue), Warner Bros. Consumer Products showcased several other theatrical, television and library properties.

WBCP's launched its licensing plans for two films debuting in 2010, Jonah Hex and Guardians of Ga'Hoole. Jonah Hex, a supernatural character that tells the tale of a former Confederate soldier-turned-hardened bounty hunter who seeks vengeance in the Old West. Guardians of Ga'Hoole is a CG-animated action-adventure that follows the young owl, Soren, and his friends on a heroic journey to seek out a mythical band of owls and join with them in battle to defeat rogue forces.

In television licensing, WBCP featured such classics such as "Supernatural," "Seinfeld" and "Friends," as well as newer hit, "Gossip Girl."

In classic films, WBCP featured Gone with the Wind, Caddyshack, The Goonies, Gremlins, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, as well as holiday favorites like The Polar Express, Frosty the Snowman and A Christmas Story.

The expanded master licensee agreement for the popular character Pucca was highlighted, as was WBCP's portfolio of world-class football/soccer franchise properties that include FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus FC, Paris Saint-Germain, São Paulo Football Club, Mexico's National Team and Club America.

WBCP also continued to celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, featuring its worldwide tour of The Ruby Slipper Collection.

"The diversity of our portfolio is unmatched in breadth and scope, offering licensees and retailers opportunities across the licensing spectrum," says Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

While the big story for Marvel Entertainment at this year's show was the sequel to Iron Man, which is set for May 2010, the studio created some licensing buzz over its 2011 lineup, which includes Thor and Captain America. (See cover story on page 26.)

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