The 2001 holidays will be a heady time for Toy Biz, the toy division of Marvel Enterprises.
The subsidiary, which already holds licensing rights to the fall 2001 Sony release “Spider-Man,” has just landed world licensing rights to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy from New Line, the first installment of which arrives in theaters at Christmas 2001.
J.R.R. Tolkein’s trilogy, which has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 50 million copies, is now in production with Peter Jackson (“Heavenly Creatures”) at the helm and an all-star cast, including Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen and Liv Tyler.
With its large cast of elves, wizards and other fantastic creatures, “Lord of the Rings” has “the potential to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all-time,” said Marvel chief creative officer Avi Arad, whose relationship with New Line includes the “Blade” franchise.
David Imhoff, New Line exec veep of worldwide licensing and merchandising, declined to say what the “Lord of the Rings” toy franchise might eventually be worth. “Everybody hopes for a grand slam like ‘Star Wars,’ ” he said. “But it’s up to the consumer.”
The products covered by the agreement — which include action figures, dolls, remote control toys and LCD watches — will hit the market in time for the release of the first film in the trilogy. (The three films will be released at one-year intervals.)
Announcement came on the eve of the Licensing Show opening in New York, which runs today through Thursday.
In another development, Universal Pictures announced it has signed Hasbro as the worldwide master licensee for next year’s “Jurassic Park III,” the same role the toymaker played in the first two dino movies.
Hasbro’s lines will include boys’action toys, games, puzzles, plush toys and electronic items. The company delivered action figures with the original “Jurassic Park” in 1993 and released toy and game lines in 1997 for “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
Universal said it will use a trio of creative themes for licensees and promo partners: Jurassic Park Authentic with factual information on dinosaurs; Re-Ak Attack, focusing on dinosaur vs. dinosaur action; and Site C, focusing on the film’s location on a Costa Rican island.
Universal also said it has signed more than 70 domestic and 11 international licensees for “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” scheduled for a Nov. 17 release. New partners include Playmates for toys and action figures, Hanover Accessories for hair accessories and picture frames, Shadle Enterprises for dinnerware and Salton for waffle makers.
Universal also plans to seek partners at the show for “Josie and the Pussycats,” “Redline” and “The Mummy Returns.”