Here are excerpts from Marla Matzer Rose’s article for The Hollywood Reporter:
Classics, anniversaries and TV properties are the safety bets in the entertainment licensing business, which has entered a more conservative phase.
Sales have plateaued, and retailers have become more cautious. But everyone agrees that there is always a Next Big Thing — which usually comes out of nowhere — and that such high-profile movie properties as “The Lord of the Rings,” “Spider-Man” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” will continue to provide much of the sizzle at this year’s Licensing 2001 show, kicking off today at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.
Every show has its big guns, which are often closely watched as bellwethers of the health of the industry in general. This year, several studios that have recently been light on big, merchandisable properties — Sony, New Line and DreamWorks — look poised to create some fireworks at the show.
New Line has its biggest-ever licensing and promotional vehicle on its hands with the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, with the first of three back-to-back movies set to be released in December. The studio has announced a Burger King tie-in for the first film and has an “extensive range of product” already licensed, according to New Line executive vp licensing and merchandising David Imhoff.
“We put the age range (for ‘Rings’) at seven-plus,” Imhoff said. “Seven-year-olds are increasingly sophisticated now.” And no one can question the built-in awareness “Rings” has with adults and young adults.” There have been 100 million copies sold of the “Rings” trilogies books by J.R.R. Tolkien sold since the 1950s, and early trailers for “Rings” have been getting hundreds of thousands of hits online.
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