Looking to build C.S. Lewis’s classic Narnia fantasy novels into a long-term franchise, Disney Consumer Products is going after multiple demographics with its program for Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – the first film in a possible five-picture series.
Eva Steortz, VP and GM for film franchise marketing at DCP, says the company expects the Chronicles to generate at least five years of licensing business and has identified three key targets to aim for: boys six and up, girls six to 12 and collectors who are already fans of the books. And to make as big a bang as possible, merchandise won’t hit shelves until the six-week window leading up to the film’s December 9 release.
More than 35 licensees are locked in, and while some critics may feel that the live-action movie is too dark and moody to translate into products for kids, Steortz says the fact that the story’s four heroes are children – who triumph over the evil White Witch and later become great kings and queens – is a key element that should draw kids to the property.
Toys from Hasbro, Mega Bloks and newcomer Zizzle will drive a mass-market boys range that encourages fantasy play. Along with highly articulated action figures from Hasbro based on the lead characters and creatures of Narnia, Steortz says Zizzle’s electronic role-play SKUs will also be central to the line. In the film, Father Christmas gives each of the kids a special gift to fight the White Witch, and Zizzle is working on sound- and light-effect replicas of these, as well as a wand the White Witch uses to turn living creatures into stone. The release schedule for these boys toys hinges on the November 14 rollout of a Narnia video game title from Buena Vista Games.
For girls, Steortz says DCP has generated a fashion-forward style guide for apparel licensees including Giant (tees and fleece) and nZania (tees and sportswear). Instead of resting on literal interpretations of the characters, the designs go heavy on graphics – so rather than a transfer picture of Aslan the lion, you might see his silhouette rendered in colors such as pink and raspberry on a T-shirt. Steortz also expects home décor products from Gertanian & Sons (rugs), Hallmark (greeting cards, stationery) and FAB (diaries, notebooks) to perform well with this demo.
Lead SKUs for collectors include detailed character statues from WETA and prop replicas of weapons used in the film from Master Replicas. At press time, DCP was in the process of finalizing promotional and retail plans, which include a second merch campaign to coincide with the DVD release in spring ’06.
Editor’s note: The electronic version of this article has been edited from the original print version in order to correct or clarify some information that it contained.