“Guardians of the Galaxy” isn’t just performing well for Disney at the box office. The company is seeing strong interest in the film and its cast of misfits on the small screen, as well — especially for its videogame “Disney Infinity.”
Since becoming available in July, brisk sales for Rocket racoon and the “Guardians” playset have put them in a position to beat out Captain America and Spider-Man to become the game’s top overall pre-selling figures and playsets. The character Groot is No. 3 so far, behind Venom.
In fact, Rocket is currently selling nearly twice as much as the game’s bestselling characters last year, which were “Monsters Inc.’s” Mike Wazowski and “Frozen’s” Elsa. And it keeps climbing with the number of Rockets sold tripling over the previous week. Disney declined to provide actual sales figures.
“The film is really driving all of the awareness” for the “Guardians” characters, John Blackburn, senior VP and general manager of “Disney Infinity” told Variety. And the sales show “just how popular these characters are and how they’re surpassing other popular characters that have been available longer.”
The sales are in the form of pre-orders, given that the 2.0 version of “Disney Infinity” won’t be available until Sept. 23.
The first edition of the game already has generated over $500 million from the sale of more than 3 million starter packs, priced at $75. There are higher expectations for the second version, given it will now feature Marvel’s superheroes for the first time.
Because of early popularity of the “Guardians” characters, Disney also has revealed that mercenary Yondu, played by Michael Rooker in the film, will now also get a physical figure that will be added to the game, rather than just appear in playable missions.
The Falcon, from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” also will be added to “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” next year.
In addition to Rocket, Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora and Groot will be featured in a new “Guardians” play set this fall for the second iteration of Disney Interactive’s video game that combines on screen game play with physical figures.
Inspired by the Marvel Studios film that bowed Aug. 1, the “Guardians” play set follows Star-Lord and his fellow Guardians as they arrive at the space station Knowhere, having just stolen a powerful cosmic object from the villainous Ronan the Accuser. Players will guide the team as they race to protect Knowhere from Ronan and his attacking Sakaaran fleet while keeping their newly liberated item safe from the villain’s evil grasp.
Iron Man, from “The Avengers” play set, and Nova (from the Spider-Man play set) will also be playable in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” edition, while Cosmo, The Collector and Yondu will give missions.
Since the launch of “Disney Infinity” last year, Disney has long positioned the game as a way to showcase its popular but also new characters, especially as new films or TV properties are released. Disney decides a year in advance on which characters to add to the game, in order to give it time to design and manufacture the figures and integrate them into the gameplay.
Disney began promoting the availability of the “Guardians” characters for “Disney Infinity” in July, during San Diego Comic-Con. The film wasn’t released in theaters until Aug. 1. It’s gone on to earn nearly $600 million at the worldwide box office since then.
Making the decision to promote the “Guardians” before their release “was really easy,” Blackburn said. “Marvel’s batting a thousand. It’s easy to get behind anything they’re doing.”
Disney Interactive has been working to reduce the amount of time it takes to add new characters to the game, timing them closer to a film’s release in order to capitalize on the marketing of the title to moviegoers.
The characters from Walt Disney Studios’ “Big Hero 6” will also soon also be added to the game, shortly before its release on Nov. 7, a similar strategy taken with “Frozen” last year.
In Rocket’s case, strong interest in the character could be coming from collectors or just fans who may not necessarily be buying him to play the game.
“That’s a big part of this business,” said Peter Phillips, executive VP and general manager of Marvel interactive and digital distribution. “These (figures) were made with that in mind.”
But Marvel already had seen a spike in sales for all-things “Guardians” related as early as last year, especially the comicbooks and then early merchandise like Rocket plush.
“That was even before anyone really knew what it was yet,” Phillips said.