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Hasbro, Fox tie-in ‘Titan’

Toy chest includes action figures, games

Marking another major toy deal with the key partner in its “Star Wars” merchandising machine, Fox has signed Hasbro Inc. to produce merchandise for its summer animated pic “Titan A.E.”

Hasbro will create items ranging from action figures and vehicles to electronic games for the sci-fi film. Execs wouldn’t divulge the value of the deal, but event-film arrangements can often reach eight and nine figures.

Characters in “Titan” are voiced by, among others, Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo and John Leguizamo. Teen and pre-teen boys are the prime target.

Other companies with deals stemming from the film include Dark Horse Comics, Penguin Books and clothiers Cranky Boy, Changes and Channel K.

Goods will hit store shelves just prior to the pic’s bow, tentatively scheduled for sometime in July.

“Titan” will be the second theatrical effort by Fox Animation Studios, following “Anastasia” in 1997. It depicts existence 15 years after Earth disappears, with humans becoming homeless wanderers who mingle with aliens. Titular Titan is a spacecraft that can save the human race.

Steve Ross, head of licensing and merchandising for Fox, said the pic will offer a blend of CGI and traditional animation techniques. The task for Hasbro will be to create similar innovations off-screen.

“The upside is that when you make a picture like this that breaks the mold it’s a lot easier than when you have a film that screams, ‘Kids! Kids! Kids!’ ” Ross told Daily Variety.

A handful of other animated pics are eyeing summer 2000. On the docket so far are “Chicken Run” from DreamWorks, “Dinosaur” and “Recess” from Disney and “Rugrats In Paris” from Paramount.

It’s been a busy year for Hasbro in Hollywood. Company is also toy licensee for Nintendo’s Pokemon characters. Warner Bros.’ “Pokemon: The First Movie” bows Nov. 10.

The news can only help Hasbro stock, which surged to a 52-week high of $37 just prior to the May release of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” but has since slumped, closing Monday at $20.38, down 25 cents.

In the second quarter, the company’s earnings jumped sixfold over the year earlier. Third-quarter profit surged 43%. The company credited “Star Wars” toy sales for those results.

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