With Halloween just around the corner, Forbes has released its weird (and probably a little morbid) annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities, led by Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. But at No. 3, for the second year in a row, is the late Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.
The cartoonist, who passed away in 2000 at age 77, is estimated to have earned $37 million this year — or at least his creations did. They’re owned by Peanuts Worldwide, a joint venture formed by Iconix Brand Group has partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz, which in 2010 bought the rights to Peanuts from E.W. Scripps Co. (it was part of a $175 million deal for the entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert and Fancy Nancy). The property’s 1,200 licensing agreements generate annual retail sales of more than $2 billion worldwide.
Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles products have grossed more than $475 million in retail sales since the latest animated series premiered in September 2013. The announcement, made this week at the Brand Licensing Europe show in London, comes just four years after the cable network’s parent company Viacom bought the property for a reported $60 million.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, about $250 million of those sales come from the United States, with the remainder coming from overseas markets, where the Turtles are just as huge. They’re the top action figures in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and, yes, the United States (where Nickelodeon says they make up 15 percent of the action-figure market).
“Nothing’s bigger,” Pam Kauffman, the network’s president of consumer products, told the trade paper. “We are beating Iron Man, Batman, WWE.”
King Features Syndicate apparently has decided the best way to reinvigorate the 83-year-0ld Betty Boop is to kill her, and then resurrect her as a zombie.
At the Licensing Expo, held this week in Las Vegas, the company signaled it would like a little of that Walking Dead/Warm Bodies money by announcing it willtake the iconic cartoon and comic-strip character into “unexplored territory” with Betty Boop Zombie Love – which, as Topless Robot notes, does bring to mind necrophilia, which doesn’t seem like a recipe for merchandising bonanza.
“With a new style guide and art treatments, the wide-eyed beauty is clearly a victim of the zombie craze currently infecting the world,” the King Features press release states. So, yeah, expect the undead flapper to appear on clothing soon.
As we’re on an unintentional licensing and merchandising spree, it seems only fitting to cap off the day with perhaps one of the stranger, but certainly most delicious, tie-ins: Red Robin’s Wolverine-themed hamburgers.
Not that Red Robin, although that would be wonderfully bizarre. No, this is the Colorado-based restaurant chain whose name is usually followed by “Yummmmm!“ (seriously, you can’t think “Red Robin” without hearing that in your head). The company has partnered with 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine to create two gourmet burgers inspired by the film.
As Licensing Expo 2013 gets under way today in Las Vegas, Variety reports that with first Marvel and now Lucasfilm beneath its umbrella, Disney is poised to expand its domination of the entertainment licensing market. Last year, the media conglomerate generated $39.4 billion in retail licensing, and claimed a staggering 80 percent market share.
Once again the world’s largest licensor, Disney now boasts six of the Top 10 franchises, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association: Disney Princess (No. 1), Star Wars (No. 2), Winnie the Pooh (No. 3), Cars (No. 4), Mickey & Friends (No. 6) and Toy Story (No. 8). Disney Fairies comes in at No. 11, trailed at No. 16 by Spider-Man.
Target’s new partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment received a promotional boost this week with the debut of an animated TV commercial for the retail chain featuring the Justice League. In their New 52 costumes, no less.
Announced last month, the agreement includes an exclusive summer collection of Justice League merchandise — there are more than 50 products, ranging from a Wonder Woman kids’ camp chair to Batman snack cups to inflatable pool toys — as well as other items, such as temporary tattoos and even rocking chairs. Target has a shop on its website devoted to the Justice League products.
In the 30-second TV spot, a woman suddenly realizes she’d forgotten her child’s birthday party, and calls in the Justice League for help with a last-minute shopping spree at Target. Hey, they didn’t have anything more pressing to do. Unfortunately, Batman’s utility belt aside, those costumes don’t leave much room for cash or credit cards …
Fans who have been hoping to see Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk in a Disney theme park ever since the entertainment giant purchased Marvel in 2009 will finally get their wish — in Hong Kong.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang announced the seven-year-old Hong Kong Disneyland will add a Marvel superheroes area as part of its expansion program. Jointly owned by the government and Disney, the resort now has six themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land.
Just as The Avengers arrives in U.S. theaters, a Los Angeles toy company has sued Marvel, accusing the company of committing fraud in a licensing agreement that went sour.
In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and first reported by Deadline, Box-O-Mania claims owner Maxim Tselevich created a children’s playhouse in 2009 and approached Marvel about branding the product with its superheroes. Early the following year, the two parties allegedly worked out a deal for Box-O-Mania to manufacture Iron Man’s Lair Play Boxes, which would debut in stores in November 2010, coinciding with the release of Iron Man 2 on DVD.
As the licensing machine revs up for the May 4 premiere of The Avengers, fragrance company JADS International — the company behind such brands as Sulu Pour Homme, Slave Leia Perfume and Shirtless Kirk Cologne — has rolled out scents inspired by Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Nick Fury and even Loki. Sorry, Hawkeye, you’re out of luck.
The Avengers Cologne Set boasts “four unique fragrances”: PATRIOT, Mark VII, SMASH! and Worthy; you can probably piece together which name goes with which hero. Loki, meanwhile, gets Mischief Cologne (“Made to Rule”), and Fury has Initiative Cologne (“Activate the Initiative”).
Check out the details below, or on the JADS website.
According to a recent Radiolab Podcast, in order to get a 5.2-percent tax cut on Marvel’s imported action figures, the company’s lawyers successfully argued the toys represent “animals or other non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters)” as defined by the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, a tome that determines tariff classifications for all goods imported into the United States.
Confused? There’s a lot of legalese involved, so here’s the way it breaks down: There’s a distinction between two categories of products imported into the U.S. “Dolls” are toys representing humans, whereas “toys” represent non-humans. While dolls are taxed at 12.8 percent, toys are taxed at just 6.8 percent. Two shrewd trade attorneys noticed the distinction and successfully argued to U.S. Customs officials that Marvel’s licensed products don’t represent human beings.
Toyota has teamed with Marvel for “The Incredible Drive,” a four-part stop-motion animated adventure promoting the car manufacturer’s Yaris model. Created by the crew behind “Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!” — Ben Morse, Jesse Falcon, Alex Kropinak and others — the first short features a Yaris-driving Bruce Banner forced into therapy with Doctor Strange, who suggests all he needs for his anger-control issues is a road trip. With him.
Yes, the guy who transforms into a 7 1/2-foot-tall monster drives a subcompact car — but, hey, it’s no weirder than him rooming with the Red Hulk or seeking mental-health advice from a magic-wielding neurosurgeon (apparently Doc Samson isn’t covered by Banner’s HMO). Strange’s Monarch-esque voice is a little much, but it’s definitely worth sitting through for the Marvel Universe-themed destination billboards and the late addition to the unlikely road-trip crew.
Thor’s mythic warhammer Mjolnir can level mountains, emit blasts of mystical energy and even detect illusions. But for those swingin’ parties at Avengers mansion, only those who are thirsty shall possess its mighty power.
Early next year Diamond Select Toys will roll out a series of Marvel-based bottle openers, beginning with — you guessed it! — Thor’s hammer, complete with its legendary inscription: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
With it, you’ll be the hit of every party. Well, at least those that don’t feature twist-off caps — or Loki.
As someone who spent a significant portion of his childhood in superhero Underoos, I can appreciate the sentiment behind these new DC Comics-branded boxerbriefs from Diesel and Warner Bros. — even if I can’t envision myself, as an adult (lacking the body of an underwear model), wearing them. Or, y’know, shelling out $34 for the pleasure.
However, if you’re itching to sport the logos of Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash and The Joker above your cotton- and elastane-clad buttcheeks — or to see someone else do the same — then these are for you.
There’s probably a “stocking stuffer” joke to be made — also, “The Fastest Man Alive” — but I’ll do my best to resist. Alas, the folks at Diesel apparently don’t have that level of restraint, as the (let’s hope intentionally) hilarious promo video for the underwear drops the phrases “heroes will rise” and “show ‘em what you’ve got.” You can check it out below.
If the rapid approach of the holidays has pushed you into panic mode, just relax, because you’ve already found the perfect gift for the superhero-comics fan in your life (or, y’know, yourself): a superhero Snuggie, or as the trademark sticklers prefer to call it, a “Comfy Throw Blanket With Sleeves”!
If you can’t fight crime like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Spider-Man, you can at least look like them — well, kind of? — while remaining toasty in the comfort of your own beige living room, while sitting on your own beige sofa and watching your own (probably) beige television. Hey, I’m only going by the product photos, which do a better job of advertising furniture than selling one-size-fits-all Snuggies Comfy Throw Blankets With Sleeves using two models and Photoshop.
Batman is out of stock, but you can still get Superman ($30.97), Wonder Woman ($25.99) and Spider-Man ($24.95) while supplies last! Act now and you’ll get … I don’t know, peace of mind? The satisfaction of seeing your loved one smile uncomfortably while modeling, and pretending to appreciate, a garish, yet comfy, fleece shroud? Yeah, probably that.
Publishing | DC Comics joins the Kia Soul, Goldfish, My Little Pony and several others on Advertising Age’s annual list of America’s Hottest Brands: “With decades of stories under their capes and utility belts, Superman — and other DC characters, including Aquaman and the Flash — had ossified. Though relaunching its entire cast and making their adventures available to print and electronic audiences might alienate some hard-core DC fans, it might also gain plenty of new ones. Making DC characters more popular is crucial for its parent company. While the comic-book business is way down from its heyday, its characters fuel big-ticket Hollywood movies that can generate millions of dollars in revenue and licensing. The pressure may be on DC because rival Marvel, now owned by Disney, has churned out superhero film properties on a regular basis for years.” [Advertising Age]
Broadway | Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have changed their tune on the $75 million musical; previously they predicted they wouldn’t make back the money invested in the show without franchising it in other cities and countries, but now they predict they’ll make it back entirely from the Broadway run. They also are considering adding in new scenes and a new musical number to the production every year, “making it akin to a new comic book edition, and then urging the show’s fans to buy tickets again.” [The New York Times]