2007 Hot Property

Principals: Juli Boylan, senior VP, Sony Pictures Consumer Products; Paul Gitter, senior VP, consumer products, North America, Marvel Entertainment; Simon Phillips, president, Marvel Intl.

Licensees include: Fruit of the Loom, Hallmark, Hasbro, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and V-Tech

The story: Long a favorite among comicbook and cartoon enthusiasts, Spider-Man’s popularity — as well as its licensing and merchandising opportunities — skyrocketed since the webslinger was launched into his first Sony Pictures feature in 2002.

And this year, preceding the record-breaking theatrical premiere of “Spider-Man 3,” the property was able to overcome stiff tentpole competition in the retail area and secure a tarantula-sized position on store shelves.

With the launch of the features, the property has become very popular in the toy realm recently.

Thus, having entered into a joint venture called Spider-Man Merchandising, Sony and Marvel also teamed with master toy licensee Hasbro to craft retail-centric programs at mass-market hot spots including Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart and Sears, creating a buzz months before the film’s opening.

That seems to have paid off: Initial toy sales based on “Spider-Man 3″ significantly outperformed those rooted in “Spider-Man 2,” according to Hasbro.

Sony will continue its support with additional programs to correspond with the movie’s late-October DVD release, as well as the webslinger’s new animated series, set to launch on Kids’ WB! on the CW Network in early 2008.

Marvel is also boosting its emphasis on its preschool-targeted Spider-Man & Friends program.

For that initiative, the licensing driver is a toy line by Hasbro; other licensees include Procter & Gamble (diapers), Johnson & Johnson (bandages), Hallmark (stationery), Fruit of the Loom (underwear) and V-Tech (interactive games).

In addition, Marvel is leveraging the “Spidey” archives to support its classic character licensing program, for which the food and beverage category is a key priority.

POV: “As a whole, it’s just been exciting, and the product mix is incredible,” Boylan says. “In every department that carries licensed product, ‘Spider-Man’ is there.”

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