Newly minted Paramount Licensing is cutting its kids-biz teeth on a full-blown program for February 2008 release The Spiderwick Chronicles. ‘It is most merchandisable film that Paramount has produced in a long time,’ says Michael Bartok, EVP of licensing for the new division created earlier this month when it took licensing duties back from sister co Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products.
‘We are putting the full weight of our resources behind it,’ says Bartok. He’s banking on the film’s cast of creatures, magic-laced storyline and real-kid protagonists to propel merch sales.
Bartok says the L.A.-based division is currently scouting for licensees across all categories including tentpegs such as toys, publishing and interactive games for the movie based on Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi’s bestselling children’s book series. However, he expects to have a few deals locked up heading into Licensing Show in June.
As for other kid properties being handled by Paramount Licensing, Bartok says there are a few projects close to being greenlit, including an animated feature. But he’s waiting until all the T’s are crossed on the contract to introduce it to the licensing community.
PL’s 25-person team based in L.A. now resides under the same roof as Paramount’s promotional and marketing divisions, and should benefit from the proximity as the units will be able to work in lockstep on a given property’s program.
On the international front, newly formed Paramount International Licensing will be working to coordinate international launches and themed entertainment opportunities outside of the US.
‘Now we are working hand-in-hand with marketing and promotions,’ Bartok says, adding the division will have a close relationship with the studio’s newly hatched direct-to-DVD group. ‘We now have a singular focus…and we will use that to our competitive advantage.’