Hollywood didn’t see the value of Rogue Pictures when Ryan Kavanaugh bought the genre label from Universal last year — its library, after all, includes only a couple of breakout hits.
But that hasn’t stopped the film financier from trying to turn Rogue into an edgy lifestyle brand among teens and twentysomethings that can mint coin from everything from movies to merchandise.
The moneyman, through Relativity Media, behind many of Hollywood’s major releases these days, is planning to pour a considerable amount of coin into propping up Rogue.
Starting this summer, the banner will launch a clothing line that targets 15- to 25-year-olds. Plans are to start selling hoodies, T-shirts and hats through its own website first before making the items available through retailers when it expands to include jeans, sneakers and accessories.
Items will be featured in Rogue’s pics, worn by cast members, similar to how Puma was often on display in movies and TV shows produced by New Regency. Regency topper Arnon Milchan owned a stake in the clothing company and aimed to raise awareness for the brand onscreen wherever he could.
Many of those appearances were shepherded by Scott Lambert, who now serves as prexy of Relativity’s business group and is involved in Rogue’s expansion into consumer products, digital and eventually TV shows and videogames as well.
Company is in talks with designers on whether to launch the clothing line as a standalone brand or as an extension of another label.
Either way, the final look of the product will be heavily influenced by the youth demo Rogue is trying to court. It will do that through RogueLife.com, a social-networking site that will promote the label’s slate of pics as well as its products.
Site will enable visitors to dictate what kind of products they want the Rogue brand to turn out.
“The consumers themselves are actually creating their own brand,” Lambert said. “We are just giving them the conduit to do it. It is literally a full circle. The consumer is in touch with us, and we are in touch with the consumer, in real time. As long as we continue to provide access to unique, desirable and very exclusive content, we believe we will always maintain the business plan everyone strives to find: a plan where the consumer is telling you beforehand exactly what they want.”
To further promote the Rogue brand, company plans to roll out a rock ‘n’ roll-style tour bus that will offer up freebies and host celebrity meet-and-greets and other activities at events around the country.
Brand will also be pushed across multiple entertainment properties, including yakkers like “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” and tie in to events produced by Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ. It will also be heavily hyped on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Digg.
Hollywood has long been looking to appeal to moviegoers in this age group, given how often they frequent the multiplex.
Overall effort will “leverage the distinctive look and product” of the Rogue banner, a spokesman said. But that may not matter since Kavanaugh is more interested in capitalizing on what the word “rogue” means to young audiences and its connotations of being antiestablishment.
“As we delved into this, we learned the name Rogue resonates with young people not just as a movie brand but also as an overall lifestyle brand in a manner that we have never seen before,” Kavanaugh said. “It encourages fans to embrace films and fashion across all avenues of their lives, especially within the digital space.”
Rogue successfully launched “The Last House on the Left” this past weekend and had “The Unborn” before that. The two pics are its first as an independent production banner. Other hits include “The Strangers,” “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” when the banner was owned by Universal.