Sony Pictures’ Christmas 2000 release Jumanji 2 is expected to have a healthier licensing program than its predecessor, thanks to the sequel’s unusual cast of CGI hybrid animal characters. Ewa Martinoff, VP of marketing and brand planning for Sony Pictures Consumer Products, says that even though the original Jumanji earned box-office receipts of US$100.5 million
domestically and over US$250 million worldwide (as well as spawning a hit Milton Bradley board game), its animal characters were generic and therefore difficult to license. ‘The original had trouble becoming its own unique entity because the animals were traditional animals, and lots of companies already license animals such as giraffes and elephants. The new characters are unique proprietary characters,’ Martinoff notes.
In the sequel, the wooden game box crushed in the final scene of the original re-opens and new animal hybrids emerge. At a Licensing `99 sneak preview, Sony Pictures Consumer Products executive VP of worldwide consumer products Peter Dang revealed prototype drawings of animals that may appear in the film, including a half rhino/half flamingo, a half crocodile/half ostrich and a half giraffe/half elephant. The crostrich-type animals are being designed by Ken Ralston, president of special effects division Sony Imageworks, who will be making his directorial debut with the film.
Licensing efforts have just begun for the hybrids, with toy lines expected to include animal action figures, smart toys and electronics, plus a new board game, says Martinoff. ‘The property is also exciting for apparel,’ she adds, explaining that while kids ages four to 11 will be the primary audience for licensing, apparel lines targeting tweens also look promising.
‘Jumanji 2′s animals can be trended more unisexually [than most toy lines],’ Martinoff adds, noting that upcoming Columbia feature Stuart Little will also try to reproduce the success enjoyed by Disney in targeting both boys and girls with licensed product.