Next year is the Big One for movie licensing.
Looking at the cinema release schedule for 2015, it’s hard to imagine a 12-month period that has ever offered suppliers and retailers so many opportunities. And, while licensing deals for many of the obvious hits will have been agreed some time ago, occasionally a dark horse will surprise buyers and suppliers.
We only have to look back 12 months to the release of Disney’s Frozen to find a great example. No-one – not even many Disney execs – expected the tale of sisters Elsa and Anna to cast a spell over quite so many children. Its appeal is incredible – my 16-year-old daughter (she’ll love me for outing her) is every bit as much a fan as my seven-year-old nieces.
That appeal has translated into £31m in merchandise sales in the UK and – as we reported today - the movie is on track to topple the mighty Cars 3 as the all-time most successful toy license. Just this weekend, Tesco Extra stores hosted Frozen-themed events where (in a move somebody on the marketing team should get a raise for) the retailer gave away sticker folders that can only be completed by making weekly trips to the store in the run-up to Christmas.
But enough of the past – what does the future have to offer?
THE movie event – and the one this shameless geek is most eagerly awaiting - is the seventh Star Wars film, which is released by Disney and will land in the UK on 18 December 2015.
Expectations are already high and excitement is building following the release of the name of the film – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – earlier this month, and this week’s news that the first trailer will have a limited US release from Friday. Of course, there is no such thing as a sure thing – demonstrated by the relatively poor reception the Star War prequels received last decade – but shelves will nonetheless by awash with merchandise by next autumn (if not sooner).
Superheroes are big business and are set to remain so with the May release of of Avengers: Age of Ultron – sequel to the massive Avengers Assemble – and debut of the Ant-Man movie in July. Both are Disney releases, while 20th Century Fox will bring another marvel property, the Fantastic Four, to screens in August. While there’s little sign the public have yet had their fill of superheroes, it’s telling that Warner Bros moved their Batman vs Superman flick back to 2016 given the quantity of spandex and capes on the slate for 2015.
Another title also bound to get its claws into grocery fixtures is Jurassic World. Released in June it is set 22 years after the previous Jurassic Park flicks and is the tale of how a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has been created. I’ve got a sneaking feeling something might go wrong there – velociraptors can open doors, you know.
As for (slightly) smaller releases, I’d have faith in titles including February’s SpongeBob Squarepants; a live-action version of Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh (March); and Shaun the Sheep (April), to make their presence felt in grocery.
But, while the Fifty Shades books were a huge hit for the supermarkets – as will the DVD – I find it hard to imagine licensed properties lining the shelves of the supermarkets for the cinema release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie this spring.
Mind you, I have it on good authority (no, I haven’t read them) that food features in some of the racy scenes in the novels, so perhaps an enterprising supplier will give it a go. Fifty Shades Whipped Cream perhaps?