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Mattel ramps up merch program for Barbie’s first video

When Barbie in the Nutcracker, a new CGI DTV title from Canadian toonco Mainframe, is released on October 1, consumers will be able to choose from an array of related merchandise befitting the world's best-selling doll. Mattel is assembling a major...
April 1, 2001

When Barbie in the Nutcracker, a new CGI DTV title from Canadian toonco Mainframe, is released on October 1, consumers will be able to choose from an array of related merchandise befitting the world’s best-selling doll. Mattel is assembling a major program for Nutcracker that will start rolling out at video retailers concurrent with the vid’s release. Covering books (from Mattel subsidiary The Pleasant Company); sleepwear (Wundies); a Christmas ornament that will be available at specialty retailers only (Hallmark); candies (Gallerie Au Chocolat); ballet bags (Pyramid); watches (Fossil); and eight Nutcracker-themed dolls (Mattel), the merch program (plus video) is reportedly projected to reach US$100 million in sales.

‘We’re working with our retail partners right now to make sure we make a major statement at retail,’ says Julia Jensen, a Mattel spokesperson. How big? Glenn Ross, president of Artisan Family Home Entertainment, which recently picked up North American home entertainment rights for Nutcracker, says retail promotions will be comparable to what you see for a major theatrical release.

‘Stores like Toys `R’ Us, Wal-Mart and Kmart sell a huge amount of Barbie dolls, and this will be a great companion piece to that [business],’ says Ross.

The Artisan deal gives the company an option to discuss future Barbie projects with Mattel. In addition to the Nutcracker VHS release, Artisan will also distribute a DVD version featuring a host of bonus footage, including a making-of documentary and live-action footage of the New York City Ballet.

‘Barbie has been around way too long to not have her own movie. We think this will be a huge perennial title,’ says Ross.

Mattel has also awarded international home entertainment and TV rights to U.K.-based Entertainment Rights. Mattel’s Jensen says the company plans to air the movie on U.S. TV, and was in the early stages of selecting a broadcast partner at press time.

The 75-minute Barbie in the Nutcracker-a retelling of the classic Nutcracker tale-is the first feature for the 42-year-old toy franchise. In 1990, a Barbie workout video was released to lukewarm sales. Five years later, Mattel was working on a Barbie movie internally, but reportedly shelved it indefinitely, finding the end result disappointing. Barbie also made a cameo appearance in the Disney/Pixar 1999 movie Toy Story 2, in which she played a ditzy tour guide doll.

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