Fox revamps retail

Puts homevid, licensing under new division

Fox Filmed Entertainment has restructured its retail strategy, placing the combined multibillion-dollar businesses of homevideo, licensing and merchandising and interactive new media under the single umbrella of the newly formed Consumer Products Division, headed by licensing and merchandising chief Patricia Wyatt.

Studio honchos are betting that the unified retail and homevid front will enable them to create more powerful, and more flexible, marketing and sales strategies to boost both the Fox brand generally and the individual films and TV programs specifically.

“It is clear that the future success of homevideo, interactive and licensed products for a major studio will fall to those who best can market and merchandise their products in the retail sector,” said chairman and CEO Bill Mechanic.

Acquisitions and originals

Through the consumer unit that she’ll head, Wyatt will oversee marketing, sales and distribution for all FoxVideo and Fox Interactive products, as well as video acquisitions and original programming for North American territories.

On the global scene, Wyatt will be responsible for worldwide licensing of products related to Fox films and TV properties, as well as promotions for those movies and programs, including product placement.

“There is tremendous synergy between these retail-oriented businesses,” said Wyatt. “The ability to merge them into a single operating unit will dramatically enhance the retail visibility and viability of all our consumer products.”

Prominent opportunities

Among Fox’s most prominent merchandising opportunities are products emanating from hit TV programs such as “The Simpsons” and “The X-Files.” Promising film properties include the upcoming “Dr. Dolittle” and “Cinderella” pics, according to a Fox spokesman.

(But Fox doesn’t own merchandising rights to the immensely valuable “Star Wars” movie series, which producer George Lucas has retained.)

Fox currently has no plans to open its own line of studio stores, but will continue to engage in licensing partnerships with retailers — sometimes to create special products for individual retail outlets.

“The retailers are looking forward to this new division,” said Wyatt. “It makes their job easier.”

Brand-focused structure

While president of Fox’s licensing and merchandising group, Wyatt was named one of the top 100 marketing execs by Advertising Age magazine. She oversaw the studio’s efforts to rebuild its L&M business, managing a 100% growth in merchandising revenue in two years along with the implementation of a new, brand-focused marketing structure.

For the recent theatrical release of animated feature “Anastasia,” for example, Wyatt’s group developed more than 1,000 different licensed products.

Prior to joining Fox in 1995, Wyatt served as senior VP of Applause Inc., a licensed gift and novelty business. Other posts include various marketing positions at Mattel Toys Inc.