You Can't Put an Ohmu Stampede on a Happy Meal Box

People think the movie business involves teams of writers and artists sitting at a large desk to conjure a great story. The truth is that those writers and artists each have a corporate executive hanging over their shoulder, musing silently on whether those drawings can be turned into a thousand disposable plastic products. And that's the deciding factor in whether a movie is allowed the chance to become a blockbuster hit, or remain half-buried in the alternative-pop culture underground.

This is how the movie business is played:

DCP’s core strategy is to focus on newer properties targeting the boys’ market, including popular Marvel franchises, TRON and Disney Channel and Disney XD hit series Phineas and Ferb, as well as continued support of its six key franchises: Disney/Pixar’s Cars, Disney Fairies, Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story and Winnie The Pooh. With unmatched content, rich franchises and given recent signs of an improved economy, DCP is primed for significant growth through the remainder of 2010 and into 2011.
Retail sales of merchandise for boys’ properties have clearly been on the rise for DCP.


“Our brand is our strongest asset and there is no better time in history for licensees or retailers to be associated with Disney; our strong slate of boys properties are designed to capture this market in a very big way,” Mooney said. “The tremendous strength of the Cars franchise, coupled with the recent acquisition of Marvel, which appeals to older boys, puts us in an optimum position to increase our share of this segment.”

Toy Story Expected to Reach $2.4 Billion Mark

With fiscal year 2010 retail sales expected to reach $2.4 billion, Toy Story and its beloved cast of characters have become a priority and long-term franchise for The Walt Disney Company and DCP’s biggest event film licensing program ever generating $9B in global retail sales since its inception. As Toy Story 3 readies to release in theaters June 18, major retailers have rolled out significant Toy Story product statements which have only set in the last month. But already in that short time, over 3.5 million units of Toy Story merchandise have been sold. In addition to the momentum from the film and merchandise, the Toy Story franchise will grow into a cross-company initiative that will include the introduction of all-new short form content on multiple Disney platforms modeled after the popular series, Cars Toons.

Cars Franchise Poised To Lead Disney Boys Franchises in 2011

Following the incredible success of Toy Story, DCP’s biggest event film licensing program, the upcoming release of Cars 2 in June 2011 will be supported with unprecedented cross-company initiatives that are expected to dwarf DCP’s huge Toy Story 3 retail sell-in. Cars was the highest grossing animated film in the U.S. in 2006 and has generated $2B in annual global retail sales every year since then. Cars has been a huge and consistent hit with boys, parents and collectors; years after the original film’s debut, Lightning McQueen and Mater still rank as the #1 and #2 most popular movie characters among moms of boys 2-5. Cars Toons, the hilarious series of shorts airing on Disney Channel, has made Cars relevant to young boys and provided fresh merchandising themes for incremental retail programs globally. To date, there have been 150 million die-cast cars sold around the world.

I'm bringing up this topic because Michael Barrier had a few things to say about a satirical Cracked article entitled, "5 Hollywood Secrets That Explain Why So Many Movies Suck." Barrier uses this as a springboard to tear into Pixar for just about the billionth time, and you are perfectly free to love or hate him for it, but he does make a very interesting point, which I'll excerpt below. And now, for your scientific and intellectual pleasure, the creature:

Hollywood Secret #1 is "Merchandising Supremacy," with Pixar (and Cars 2) as Exhibit A. Just a couple of days after Milt sent me the link, the Wall Street Journal ran a story titled "Sequels Come Fast, Furious As Studios Aim to Cut Risk." Accompanying the article was a chart comparing Disney's take from Toy Story 3 with its take from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (which I liked, by the way). Both movies took in more than a billion dollars at the global box office—but Toy Story 3 had much greater "ancillary retail sales," $8.8 billion versus $600 million for Alice.

The Journal noted that Disney executives had just "told a gathering of investors that the company would spend 80% of its production budget this year on franchise films [like Cars 2 and the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean] versus 40% in 2010. ... Disney says that focusing on films that can spawn sequels and lines of merchandise allows it to generate revenue from multiple businesses, multiple geographic region and over multiple years. Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross said a franchise movie 'starts with the human connection to the story and characters, but downstream there are opportunities to own the DVD, see live stage versions, buy apparel, toys, or other licensed products.'"

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