Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising is certainly catering to this demo with its strategy for Titan A.E., an animated sci-fi pic slated to hit theaters next summer. ‘Teens will make or break your box office in the first weekend, and I think the teen lifestyle merchandise is going to be just as paramount to the movie’s overall success,’ says Marc Bruderer, the division’s VP of marketing. ‘If we can get teens, everyone else will follow. Little brothers and sisters will aspire to the sophisticated look of the product.’
Bruderer says the key to scoring a retail success with teens lies in creating really edgy merch with licensing partners that they respect, and then building a groundswell by gradually distributing the stuff at a local level via non-mainstream outlets.
In keeping with this Mountain-coming-to-Muhammed style, Fox has developed a slow-building plan that begins with a line of henna kits,
temporary tattoos and body paint by Signall Hill, California-based Mendhi Body Art, based on recurring symbols in the flick. ‘We’re going to start trickling out some of the tattoo product on a promotional basis to hit teens where they dwell-at concerts, boarding and surfing events, in specialty shops and on the Internet,’ says Bruderer. ‘If we do a major push right before the theatrical release and blast them, we’ll push teens away.’
Apparel from high teen Q fashion licensees like Cranky Boy, Changes and Channel K will be added to the merch lineup closer to the film’s summer 2000 launch date. As well, Dark Horse Comics will ink the film’s back story in a three-part comic book prequel series, the first issue of which will hit store shelves in April. Rounding out the publishing side of things, Penguin Books is putting together a book program that will include junior and adult novels, and side stories based on the movie’s lead characters. Cedco is also on-board for wall calendars, student planners and locker calendars for 2001.
Blending CGI and cel animation, Titan A.E. is set 15 years after the end of Earth, with humans wandering the alien-laden galaxy with no place to call home. Bruderer says many elements of the movie itself were designed to appeal specifically to teens, including the voice talent. The ubiquitous Matt Damon stars as a rebellious 19-year-old who discovers that his father’s ring contains a map to a legendary spaceship called the Titan, which Damon uses to lead his race to a new world. With Drew Barrymore and Janeane Garofalo co-starring, the talent lineup should be enough to drive teens to theaters in droves. However, as added insurance, Titan A.E.’s music score will be comprised exclusively of teen-driven contemporary rock tunes, and the characters’ clothing was designed by Kim Barrett, who created futuristic togs for both The Matrix and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet (the funky 1996 incarnation).