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June 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 6
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Hollywood ToyBoy: Make Hollywood Obsolete


The sheep are running scared. It’s Hollywood, so what’s new? No one wants to take a chance. Even if “Spider-Man III” is artistically bankrupt by the makers’ own say, they’re already ramping up for Spidey IV and beyond.

FIRST A SHOW … THEN A TOY

“I tell ‘em, ‘Think merchandising last; make a good movie first,’” groused a chain-smoking studio exec friend of mine. “No one listens. They all want to sell the video games and the plush toys, and I get stuck with the terrible idea.” (See also Hollywood ToyBoy: Toys and TV Shows Don’t Mix).

Toys only come out for big hits, and since the big hits are only from major studios doing major audience-already-recognized franchises (according to the execs again), the fear of being unique and original is so great, no one dares do it. And so dividends drop and “net profit” is harder to make.

FIRST A TOY … THEN A SHOW


“I’d love for someone to make a low-bud movie with their own merchandise and turn this whole thing on its head,” confided a big-shot entertainment lawyer who was into her third drink. “Sell it on the Web, through YouTube, or something. Bypass normal distribution channels and make a fortune. If you thought the majors are scared now, wait till you see that.”

Can’t just take two aspirin and call the Doc in the morning. Someone’s gonna have to — dare I say it? — grow some kiwis. That’s right: Change up the method of merchandizing and distribution.

We all know that online pirating of movies is growing major … everyone’s shakin’ in their Forzieris. What happened when the music industry was hit? They toured? That’s right, bands went retro and started pulling in the dough by touring and selling their merchandise directly to the consumer, literally letting most of their songs go for free online. What if some smart movie-maker/entrepreneur did that?

I talked to a Web maven — sites galore — who is now streaming video movies as advertisements for toys.

DROP SHIPPING FROM A MOVIE

“Yeah, it used to be cartoons were one big ad for toys — remember that? Then the FCC cracked down. No one’s cracking down on the Web. I release a feature cartoon for next-to-nothing, and everyone wants the toys from it. Which I drop ship — no muss, no fuss.” (Also read Hollywood ToyBoy: Is the Internet Friend or Foe?)

It’s genius. Gone would be the days of trying to bank on what the next big studio hit would be and wrestling with the major toy companies for the same merchandise everyone else had. A retail store could just cruise online, find a movie they liked, and tie it to their own Web store: Voila! Instant ad, unique toy. Maybe even give away the DVDs (or sell at a minimal price) at the store as an intro to the product.

Now Hollywood is really scared. They’d be bypassed, and Hollyweird hates being bypassed. It’s worse than failure, it’s ... irrelevance. Now wouldn’t that be somethin’?

Me, I’m gonna fire up my MacBook Pro and do a little surfing. Maybe I can interest George Clooney in a role about an ex-webpage designer who gathers a team of misfit programmers to take a stab at a whole new form of product distribution via the Internet. We could call it “Notions 11.” You never know.



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Writer's Bio: Mark Zaslove is an entertainment industry veteran in developing content (writing, directing and producing television and feature films) for the major studios, including Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing and recipient of the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies), Mark is also Head of Content Development for Nice Entertainment. Read more articles by this author

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