TDmonthly Magazine!
April 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 4


Which Movies Will Win?

Star Wars Battles Potter

“...sales of the entire 'Star Wars' product range have noticeably accelerated in the past few weeks.”
Consensus among my retailer panel and the buyers I speak with has it that the nine movies in the table below will be instrumental in providing growth in a variety of toy categories this year — action figures, plush, construction, vehicles and activity kits:

Film Title Release Date Master Toy Licensee Secondary Toy Licensee
Iron Man 5/2/2008 Hasbro MEGA Brands
Speed Racer 5/9/2008 Mattel LEGO
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 5/16/2008 Jakks Pacific
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 5/22/2008 Hasbro LEGO
Kung Fu Panda 6/6/2008 Mattel
The Incredible Hulk 6/17/2008 Hasbro MEGA Brands
The Dark Knight (Batman) 7/18/2008 Mattel LEGO walked away from it
Star Wars: The Clone Wars 8/15/2008 Hasbro LEGO
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 11/21/2008 NECA for North America/Corgi for International

Bolded company names indicate products that are already available on the shelves of Target, Toys “R” Us or Wal-Mart.
A fair amount of data correlates the success of a movie to the success of the toys tied to it. But the audience demographics must be right. A movie watched by teenage boys is unlikely to resonate with consumers of preschool toys, and an action movie seen mainly by adults will not result in strong action-figure sales.

“Batman Begins,” for example, had a pretty strong showing, but from an audience that was 57-percent male and 54-percent viewers over the age of 25. Given the movie’s teen and tween boy audience of about 14 percent, sales results for the movie-backed toys were disappointing.

You cannot get a good handle on target audiences much before the third day after release of a movie. What you can do is focus on interest levels as evidenced by web traffic and blog metrics. I looked at two – Nielsen’s Blog Pulse and Google’s Trend History. The former measures what people talk about on the web and the latter looks at the searches made over Google.

I first considered the three movies whose release dates are nearest — “Iron Man,” “Speed Racer” and “Prince Caspian.”

Both charts tell the same story. “Iron Man” dwarfs the other two, and “Speed Racer” is slowly gaining momentum as the release date draws nearer.

“Prince Caspian” is very low in terms of interest levels, not only comparatively but also in absolute terms, which may be why the products are not yet on the shelves of the “big three” [but are available on their web pages]. Buyer input confirms the current accuracy of the two graphs above.

As for the next three, “Indiana Jones,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Incredible Hulk”:

“Indiana Jones” is ahead and solid. “Kung Fu Panda” peaked early and then lost momentum, and the “Hulk” is still very slow. The first two have products out, and the retailer panel and buyers confirm that “Indiana Jones” products are doing exceptionally well, whereas “Kung Fu Panda” is slow — about on par with “Ratatouille” last year.

And finally, the last three: “Batman,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter”:

“Star Wars: Clone Wars,” closely followed by “Harry Potter,” beats them all. There is no question that, at least now, these two movies attract the most attention even though they are four months away. The buyers and my retailer panel data both tell me that sales of the entire “Star Wars” product range have noticeably accelerated in the past few weeks.

Overall, it would today appear that “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” are likely to be the big winners, followed by “Iron Man” and “Batman.”

Lutz MullerWriter's Bio: Lutz Muller is a Swiss who has lived on five continents. In  the United States, he was the CEO for four manufacturing companies, including two in the toy industry. Since 2002, he has provided competitive intelligence on the toy and video game market to manufacturers and financial institutions coast-to-coast. He gets his information from his retailer panel, from big-box buyers and his many friends in the industry. If anything happens, he is usually the first to know. Read more on his website at Read more articles by this author


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