Austin Powers takes center stage for New Line

Based on the success of the first Austin Powers film and even stronger performance of the film's release on home video, the film sequel opening June 11 and an animated Austin Powers series slated to air on HBO in 2000, Austin...
June 1, 1999

Based on the success of the first Austin Powers film and even stronger performance of the film’s release on home video, the film sequel opening June 11 and an animated Austin Powers series slated to air on HBO in 2000, Austin Powers licensees have hit more than 70 in number. Promo partners for the sequel include Heineken, Big Boy Restaurants and Starbucks.

Licensor New Line Cinema expects that many of the licensees for the film franchise will stay aboard for the HBO series (which Austin Powers creator Mike Myers will help voice). T-shirts licensee Changes has confirmed that it will continue on.

New Line will also be highlighting Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Freddy Kruger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Jason (Friday the 13th), which have had successful runs as toys in the McFarlane Movie Maniacs collection.

New Line will be looking for licensees for its new syndicated TV program, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World, set to hit airwaves in September. The 22 x one-hour episodes have cleared 97% of the U.S.

New Line will start to create awareness for the live-action/CGI feature film trilogy Lord of the Rings that has just gone in to pre-pro.

Viacom enters Sleepy Hollow

As well as the live-action and new animated Sabrina TV series (see story page 76), Viacom Consumer Products (VCP) is spotlighting the fourth-quarter feature film Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Charlotte’s Web and Corduroy.

With a strategy ‘to keep the program under 10 licensees’ for Sleepy Hollow, says Holly Rawlinson, VP of domestic licensing, VCP has signed on McFarlane Toys (action figures), DC Comics (comic books), Pocket Books (The Art of Sleepy Hollow book), Playing Mantis (model kits), Ink Works (trading cards), Wild Storm (shelf art), June Plan (collectible figures) and Giant (apparel). Products will launch at retail during the Halloween season.

VCP will be most actively seeking licensees for Charlotte’s Web at Licensing Show. ‘We want to start with a classic positioning and go into mass market when we have the entertainment support,’ says Rawlinson. Viacom Television is developing additional, TV broadcast entertainment for the book property for the year 2001.

Book and video property Corduroy is also expanding into additional, TV broadcast entertainment, planned for the year 2000. The property has two licensees: Eden (plush and gifts), a cornerstone licensee with whom VCP is working to relaunch the property with classic positioning in spring 2000, and FX Schmid/Ravensberger (puzzles and games). VCP is looking for apparel, accessories, bedding and collectibles licensees, and is talking to a specialty retailer about being the exclusive retailer of Corduroy products.

Universal’s three-pack

Three major event films slated for the year 2000 will be highlighted by Universal Studios Consumer Products Group, including live-action The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas opening in the spring, live-action/CGI The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, slated for summer, and Thanksgiving release Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, along with debuting TV series The Woody Woodpecker Show and Sony PlayStation properties Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Jill Jones, the newly promoted executive VP of creative and marketing, says, ‘it’s the largest flight of merchandisable properties in the history of the studio.’

For the films, Jones’ strategy to attract potential licensees is to drive home the strength of the properties-all of which feature a new spin on known franchises with high name recognition. A challenge on Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is that no footage is yet available for the effects-heavy Ron Howard/Brian Grazer production. Key selling points for The Flintstones are its prequel storyline, in which Fred meets Wilma, and celebrity cast, says Jones. (The Full Monty’s Mark Addy stars as Fred, Steven Baldwin as Barney).

Over 40 licensees are in place for The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, which has multigenerational appeal, and hence includes lines such as collectibles, adult T-shirts and products aimed at baby boomers, such as Alexander dolls. ‘It’s considered a property with retro appeal, thanks to [the reruns on] Cartoon Network,’ says Jones.

The Woody Woodpecker Show boasts 40 years of franchise history, along with a Saturday morning time slot this fall on Fox Kids and a QSR tie-in with Taco Bell. Of the more than 60 licensees on board, nearly a dozen are associated with a Woody Woodpecker/

NASCAR tie-in. Kmart has signed on as the exclusive merchandiser of the Woody

Woodpecker and Curious George Adventures mass-market brands.

Lyrick unveils new Barney theme

Lyrick Studios is set to introduce a new Barney design approach and brand marketing program with the theme ‘Explore Your World.’ The theme will include two patterns and concepts, one related to nature and the other to different world cultures. The first products will be toddler bedding and bath products from Franco Manufacturing for fall and toddler apparel from Haddad in spring 2000. Toys and domestics are also planned. Lyrick is also showcasing its new licensing agreement with software producer Humongous Entertainment to publish children’s books based on Humongous’ characters, including Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish and Pajama Sam, to debut in 2000.

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