‘Indiana Jones’ goes to market

Franchise whips up promotional partnerships

Twenty six years after going on his first adventure, Indiana Jones is whipping up some major promotional partnerships.

Lucasfilm’s licensing arm has brokered pacts with Burger King and Mars North America to tie in with and promote the fourth installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise, which Paramount opens May 22.

Hallmark has agreed to produce a line of greeting cards, and Hasbro and Lego will create action figures and other toys. Random House, Scholastic and DK Publishing will publish lines of Indy-related books.

Meanwhile, LucasArts plans to produce a series of Indiana Jones videogames.

Pacts signal that Lucasfilm hopes to make the franchise a cash cow outside theaters as Harrison Ford possibly plays the Jones character for the last time in his fourth outing.

For the previous pics, producers stayed away from lining up fast-food partners or even toymakers to capitalize on the appeal of the adventurer.

It was always considered an odd move, considering George Lucas’ Lucasfilm never shied away from exploiting the “Star Wars” franchise with merchandise and promos, raking in billions in extra coin as a result.

“It’s been 19 years since the last film, and we are sensing a huge pent-up demand for everything Indy,” said Howard Roffman, prexy of Lucas Licensing, which is overseeing the deals. “The people who grew up with Indiana Jones have become today’s parents.

Among the partners, Mars’ M&Ms brand has previously backed franchises including “Star Wars,” “Shrek” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It plans to emblazon its packages with the Indy character and launch a media blitz as part of its deal with Lucasfilm.

Lego has also upped its film-related product offerings. “Indiana Jones”-themed building sets will join versions of “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” it already of-fers.

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