MGM proved it had a hit on its hands when it launched an animated theatrical reboot of "The Addams Family" last October. The CGI film went on to earn more than $200 million in worldwide ticket sales. Not to mention, it found more than 30 licensees across 12 categories for the property in 2019.
The success of the film led MGM to greenlight a sequel for 2021 and proved to licensing partners how many modern consumers care for the classic franchise. "The Addams Family" has been around since the debut of its original New Yorker cartoon in 1938. Now, after two live-action movies, a TV series and the latest animated feature films, the long-standing franchise doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
Speaking with executives on the MGM licensing team, it became clear that they always had big plans for the franchise, but the success of the movie highlighted just how much potential "The Addams Family" has in the new decade.
"We walked into 2019 knowing this isn't an in-and-out program," says Robert Marick, executive vice president, global consumer products and experiences, MGM. "This is just the beginning, and we plan to support 'The Addams Family' in subsequent years. I think because the film did so well, and a sequel was announced for 2021, that that only added fuel to our strategy.”
A Classic Franchise for the Modern Family
One of the key reasons that MGM believes the franchise has had so much staying power is because it has a timeless message about family. The story of the kooky family that doesn't quite fit in but still supports each other through thick and thin seems to have caught on with new and old audiences, according to Marick.
"At the end of the day, it's about family," adds Marick. "Every family is defined differently, and every family has its quirks – and its quirky aunts or uncles or cousins – and I think what consumers saw in 'The Adams Family' was a mirror reflection of their own.”
A Kooky Story About Inclusivity
In the modern day, the franchise also keys into a lot of themes that consumers hope to see brought to life in 2020. Fundamental ideas such as inclusivity are part of "The Addams Family" DNA and played a significant role in developing the modern take on the series’ characters, such as the family's mother-daughter duo, Wednesday and Morticia Addams.
Both characters have proven to be the standouts of the rebooted franchise, particularly for women and young girls.
"I think when we are talking about pop culture today, it is all about being accepted,” says Ricardo Cruz, vice president, consumer products, MGM. "Because [The Addams Family] are a little quirky and a bit different, I think that's what fans love about the film. It is inclusive to everyone."
A Franchise for All Seasons
MGM has already begun to highlight the pair in its licensing program, with Harper Collins expected to release a series of chapter books and junior novels based on the point-of-view of Wednesday. More broadly, the franchise will also be a part of a licensing program that extends well past the traditional Halloween season.
While the series is often considered more in line with the spooky time of year, MGM believes fans are interested in seeing "Addams Family” merchandise year-round. The year-around publishing push will be joined by a 365-day rollout of collectibles with partners such as Funko, as well as a continued partnership with mobile game developer PixOwl.
"If we look at the core theme of the family, it relates across many different holidays," continues Marick. "So, our responsibility is to not engage with it just in the typical Halloween window, but look into how ‘Addams Family’ work at Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Christmas.”
More seasonally, fans should stay tuned for a release of adult and children costumes to be released in fall 2020. The costume deal will extend the "The Addams Family" partnership that began with the launch of the animated film series in 2019.