Mouse rebounds in retail

Few grown men get as fired up about princesses and fairies as Andy Mooney, chief of Walt Disney consumer products.

Disney’s consumer products division — always one of the company’s signature businesses — was once a magic kingdom. But the unit fell off a cliff in 1999, and the Mouse hired former Nike exec Mooney to turn it around.

He sold off and restructured the Disney Stores, and in 2000, he injected Princesses into a product stable long dominated by Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.

Mooney, who spoke Tuesday at the Licensing Intl. trade show in Gotham, predicted retail sales of Disney merchandise would jump 10% to $23 billion worldwide for the Mouse’s fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

He credits new CEO Bob Iger with getting divisions to “work together to create product to support key brands.” That includes film, television, theme parks, publishing, the Net and games.

At the show, Mooney talked up Disney Fairies, a new line to extend the juggernaut Disney Princess biz. Fairies, targeted at 4- to 8-year-old girls, skews older than Princesses.

Mooney sees Princess sales up another 15% to $3.4 billion for the fiscal year. (Some 10%-15% of total retail sales trickle down to Disney.) Mooney says Fairies could be a $1 billion business in three to five years.

The Fairies line will start with CG pic “Tinker Bell” in 2007. Walt Disney Studios topper Dick Cook unveiled Brittany Murphy as the voice of Peter Pan’s diminutive pal.

“To give Tinker Bell a voice for the first time is such an honor,” Murphy told the crowd.

Direct-to-video “Tinker Bell” pic will be followed by three more fairy films still under wraps. They’re produced by DisneyToon Studios, a division separate from Disney feature animation that focuses on franchise properties.

“We’re confident that the worlds of princesses and fairies are two very different play experiences,” Mooney said.

In October, the Mouse will roll out a line of 1940s Hollywood-inspired furniture.

Also at the licensing show:

  • Warner Bros. announced “Tweety Designed by Nicky Hilton.” Apparel and accessories will be showcased in new Tweety “Pop-Up” retail shops that will start rolling out in large markets next spring.

The temporary shops will operate for six-week runs. Warner Bros. used to have its own standalone stores but shuttered them years ago.

Hilton’s collection will feature “unique pieces designed by the prominent fashionista, all with Tweety’s yellow signature,” WB said.

  • HarperEntertainment, a unit of HarperCollins, announced a six-pic movie licensing deal with DreamWorks Animation that covers “Shrek the Third,” Jerry Seinfeld’s “Bee Movie,” “Kung Fu Panda” and a “Madagascar” sequel.

Deal includes movie tie-ins like novelizations, storybooks, board books and coloring books.

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