Merchandise helps Fox promote DVD purchases in-store

In a sign that studios are getting a little more creative in how they market their homevideo releases, Twentieth Century Fox has paired with Walmart to provide the retail giant with exclusive apparel tied to its “Alvin and the Chipmunks” franchise. Launch coincides with today’s DVD and Blu-ray rollout of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.”

Walmart will install large product displays inside 3,000 of its stores nationwide that promote the discs and merchandise. Ten of Walmart’s more heavily trafficked locations will get oversized displays that include a backdrop for families to take photos.

Retailer will back the product launch online through a boutique website (Walmart.com/Alvin) and on the company’s Facebook page with its 2.5 million likes, guaranteeing Fox considerable exposure.

Initial spring line of apparel for boys and girls includes T-shirts, pajamas, swimwear, sportswear and headwear from licensees Bioworld, Awake, SG Intimates, Isaac Morris, H.I.S International, and Berkshire Fashions.

Depending on sales, Walmart and Fox hope to extend the line through other seasons.

Given that Walmart is the nation’s largest retailer, the deal is naturally seen as a way to sell more DVDs and Blu-rays. Retailers have been eager to land exclusive merchandise in order to commit more shelf space and marketing dollars around product launches.

But with an exclusive line of apparel, Fox now has a way to launch new “Alvin”-related consumer products that hadn’t previously been available with each film’s release, and puts them in front of consumers year-round. The Walmart deal also gives Fox a way to put a spotlight on the Chipettes, which will be prominently featured in future films.

Fox has been trying to identify new ways to monetize the franchise after the first film didn’t have much product to support its release in 2007. “Before the first movie came out, the franchise was in a phase of re-establishing itself,” said Jeffrey Godsick, president of Fox Consumer Products. “It’s hard to have an extensive product line ahead of a movie unless it’s a sequel or is extremely well known.” The three “Alvin and the Chipmunks” films have generated more than $1 billion at the global box office for Fox and sold more than 35 million DVD and Blu-rays worldwide.

Deal with Walmart was brokered by Fox Consumer Products and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, along with Bagdasarian Prods., the latter of which is overseen by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., the son of the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” creator, and his wife Janice Karman, who are the creative team behind The Chipmunks.

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