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RIO Merchandise Hits Toys “R” Us Next Month

Merchandise for the 3-D animated Twentieth Century Fox comedy RIO hits Toys “R” Us shelves across the country next month. The exclusive merchandising program will feature movie-inspired products, including an exclusive toy line, video games and books. Transforming into the ultimate retail destination for RIO, Toys“R”Us customers can find a selection of exclusive RIO extras and sneak peeks of the movie before it lands in theaters April 15.

The RIO merchandising assortment will include a toy line from ToyQuest, including poseable 3.75-inch mini figures in two packs, 8-inch basic plush pals, 10-inch animated talking plush, 9-inch feature plush and beanies. THQ Inc. is releasing a RIO game for Xbox and Wii April 12.  A game will also be available for PlayStation 3.

At Toys“R”Us and Toysrus.com/RIO, families will find storybooks from HarperCollins, color and activity books from Modern Publishing, and a Look-and-Find book from Publications International.

WBCP and Hopi Hari Team for Theme Park Characters

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and Latin American theme park company Hopi Hari have entered into a licensing agreement to grant Hopi Hari the rights to bring Looney Tunes, DC Universe and Penelope Pitstop characters to the Latin American entertainment destination.

Expected to be completed by January 2012, and encompassing two of Hopi Hari’s five themed areas, the environment will feature attractions, as well as experiential shops and restaurants. This partnership is an extensive, long-term licensing agreement granting Hopi Hari brand licensing rights to the names, likenesses and logos for Warner Bros.’ intellectual properties. This also marks WBCP’s entrance into the amusement park market in Brazil.

The Attractions
The area called “Infantasia” will be themed after Looney Tunes characters Bugs Bunny, Taz, Tweety, Sylvester and Daffy Duck. Hopi Hari’s adrenaline-driven “Aribabiba” will target the teen audience and feature super heroes from the DC Universe, such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash.  The agreement also includes Penelope Pitstop, in an entirely new themed environment for guests.

Merchandise will also have a presence across multiple categories, including apparel and accessories, toys, games, gifts and novelties. Hopi Hari stores will sell licensed character products, many of which will be developed exclusively for the park.

Biggest Loser Heads to the High Seas

Everyone makes that New Year’s resolution: “I will go to the gym more and eat healthier.” For most of us, come February 1, that decision is a distant memory.

So what’s the best way to get people to shape up? Stick them on a boat in the middle of the ocean and make them eat healthy.

All those New Year’s resolution dodgers could have a chance to get fit with a new cruise from the NBC hit The Biggest Loser. The show has left the ranch and headed to the high seas with the inaugural Biggest Loser Experience Cruise, which will set sail this November.

The seven-day cruise aboard Celebrity Cruise’s Celebrity Eclipse ocean liner will sail round trip from Miami, Florida on Saturday, November 12 and head to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, including three days at sea, before heading back to Miami.

Guests can rub elbows with trainer Bob Harper, who will give a two-hour keynote speech about exercise, healthy living, getting motivated and removing roadblocks to success.

He will also join guests for a VIP meet-and-greet cocktail hour. Additional speakers and former fan favorite contestants from The Biggest Loser will be announced in the coming months.

The Biggest Loser Experience Cruise is licensed through NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products and Reveille, LLC, the company behind The Biggest Loser. NBCUniversal and Reveille have joined with Life Journeys, a travel-event production company, to co-produce the event.

Bella Sara DVD and Books Head to Poland

Hidden City Entertainment, the rights holder of Bella Sara, announced that Media Service Zawada signed a licensing agreement to publish books and a fan magazine as well as distribute the ongoing Bella Sara Adventures dvd series in Poland.

Hidden City also signed with MSZ as the company’s marketing partner and official distributor of Bella Sara trading cards in Poland, with plans to launch this fall.

New Doc: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Last night, Elizabeth Reid of the Toy Book and I went to a press screening of the new Morgan Spurlock documentary, The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

The film followed Spurlock in his attempts to secure partnerships and co-promotional opportunities for the film. The goal? Make a documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed and made possible by brands, advertising and product placement.

At the beginning of the film, Spurlock hit the ground running, going door-to-door pitching every company from Nintendo, to POM juice and even Mane ‘n Tail horse shampoo.

Although he received several “no” responses, he was able to secure backing from POM Wonderful (the official sponsor for a cool $1 million), Carrera/Solstice, Amy’s Kitchen, Mane ‘n Tail, JetBlue, Merrell, Old Navy, Movietickets.com, Petland Discounts, Seventh Generation, Sheetz and Thayer’s Natural Remedies.

Everyone knows brands play a key role in the film industry. Through comprehensive interviews with filmmakers (including Quentin Tarantino), branding executives and musicians, Spurlock adds much-needed insight into how it all works.

The movie opens in select cities April 22.

—Mackenzie Allison

Sharper Image Teams with Southerland for Specialty Mattresses

The Sharper Image has entered into a licensing agreement with Southerland Inc. for specialty mattresses in memory foam, inner spring, air and latex as well as adjustable mattresses.

The Nashville, TN-based company will have rights to manufacture and distribute Sharper Image-branded mattresses to a broad range of premium retailers in the department store, bedding, specialty, club, e-commerce and mail-order channels in the United States and Canada.

Old Guys Rule to Introduce Muhammad Ali Legends Collection

Men’s lifestyle brand Old Guys Rule, together with Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC, has launched the Old Guys Rule Muhammad Ali “Legends” Collection.

The collection will debut with three T-shirts that honor the legendary fighter. Each design features an iconic image coupled with one of Ali’s famous sayings, including “Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee,”  “I Am the Greatest,” and “It’s Not Bragging if You Can Back It Up.” A portion of the proceeds from the Old Guys Rule Muhammad Ali Collection will benefit the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

The collection will be available online at oldguysrule.com and in select U.S. retailers beginning April 15.

Conan the Barbarian Named One of 11 Films to Boost 2011

Paradox Entertainment Inc. and its subsidiary Conan Properties International LLC announced that their upcoming film Conan the Barbarian was named one of USA Today’s 11 Films to Lift 2011.

Starring Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Ron Perlman, Rachel Nichols and Rose McGowan, the film will be released August 19 in both 2-D and 3-D via Lionsgate.

In the realm of licensing, several companies have signed on to create product based on the film, as well as classic Conan merchandise.

Licensees include Albion Film Swords (custom weaponry and armor; worldwide), Dark Horse Comics (comics and graphic novels print and digital; worldwide); Double Barrel (motion comics co-production; worldwide) Museum Replicas/Atlanta Cutlery (weaponry and armor; worldwide), Penguin (novelization of the screenplay; worldwide), Rittenhouse (collectible trading cards; North America, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom), Rizzoli (2011 wall calendar; worldwide) and Rubie’s Costume (costumes, masks and costume accessories; worldwide)

Other films with major licensing efforts that made the list include Rango, Rio, Scream 4, Cars 2, Cowboys and Aliens and The Smurfs.

Skechers’ New Global Licensing Initiative

Skechers Entertainment, a division of global footwear company Skechers USA, Inc., is leveraging the popularity of its original branded content and characters with a global licensing campaign.

Among the initial properties driving this new initiative is Zevo-3, the first originally produced animated television series from Skechers Entertainment, which premiered on Nicktoons in October 2010. Additionally, the direct-to-DVD movie Twinkle Toes, which is currently in production, will be among the other key properties leading the licensing roll-out. Skechers Entertainment will develop licensing partnerships in all categories including apparel, interactive, toys, games, accessories, food & beverage, stationery, gifts, arts & crafts, publishing, personal care, dress up & role play, home, novelty, seasonal and back to school.

Netflix Nabs Original Programming

Netflix has now branched out to include original programming. The online streaming specialist has secured the rights to the new political TV drama House of Cards through independent studio Media Rights Capital (MRC). Starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher, the series will begin airing 26 one-hour episodes on Netflix in late 2012.

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